The Clinton error reduction plan: Key points

In addition to its controversial mandatory error reporting provision, President Clinton’s medical error reduction plan includes the following proposals:

• Establishing a new $20 million Center for Quality Improvement in Patient Safety, designed to develop national quality improvement goals, issue an annual report on the state of patient safety, and translate its research findings into better practices and policies for the health care industry.

• Forcing all hospitals that participate in Medicare’s Prospective Payment System to have or institute patient safety programs to prevent medical errors. "These new systems save lives, and over time of course, also save money," Clinton noted.

• Working with the National Quality Forum, a public-private group of health care experts, to develop a set of patient safety measurements that would "lay the foundation for a uniform system of reporting errors."

• Supporting legislation designed to protect provider and patient confidentiality, as long as it doesn’t "undermine individual rights to remedies." Clinton said, "People should have access to information about a preventable medical error that causes serious injury or death of a family member, and providers should have protections to encourage reporting and prevent mistakes from happening again."

• Charging the Food and Drug Administra-tion to develop new standards to prevent medication errors caused by misleading packaging of drugs or sound-alike drug names. The administration also plans to develop new label standards that highlight common drug interactions and dosage errors.