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Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently announced the formal establishment of a new Patient Safety Task Force within the Department of Health and Human Services that will coordinate a joint effort among several department agencies to improve existing systems to collect data on patient safety. Thompson charged the task force with closely working with the states and private sector in this effort.
The federal agencies leading this effort include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA).
The goal of the task force is to identify the data that health care providers, states, and others need to collect to improve patient safety. To begin this process, the task force released a contract request to develop a detailed plan on how to integrate the existing reporting systems in a way that minimizes burden, provides those who must submit reports an opportunity to learn, and improves the safety of health care services.
"Top-quality health care is a hallmark for America, and this administration is committed to patient safety and reduction of medical errors as a key priority," Thompson said. "As one part of our commitment, I am charging the Patient Safety Task Force to work thoroughly and expeditiously to improve our data and reporting systems. Working with our state and private sector partners, we can make much better use of the information we already collect, and we can translate that information into quality gains for patients. At the same time, we will streamline the reporting burdens that providers face today, and we will make important findings more accessible, more quickly to the providers who need to know."
CDC, FDA, and HCFA presently operate a number of systems to collect information that helps to monitor health care safety; compliance with existing regulations on blood products, devices, drugs; and the safety of patients in Medicare-funded institutions. Secretary Thompson has charged the task force with studying how to implement a user-friendly Internet-based patient safety reporting format. This will enable faster cross-matching and electronic analysis of data and more rapid responses to patient safety problems.
HHS’ fiscal year 2002 budget proposal includes up $72 million, an increase of $15 million over fiscal year 2001, for efforts to improve patient safety and reduce adverse events.