Adverse events data shared in Minnesota

A new law in Minnesota will allow hospitals, doctors, and health care professionals from across the state to share patient safety information in ways that previously were impossible. The law changes the Minnesota Peer Review Statute, which previously inhibited the exchange of information from one hospital to the next for fear of litigation. In essence, Minnesota hospitals could learn from adverse events within their own organizations, but not others.

Senate File 560 was championed by the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partner-ship (MHHP), an association representing Minnesota’s 142 hospitals and 20 health systems. Signed into law recently by Gov. Jesse Ventura, the new measure allows hospitals, doctors, and medical staff to anonymously report medical errors in a web-based registry that can be aggregated and accessed by other health care professionals and the public.

Individual patient and caregiver information is not provided, only the data needed to learn from the event, says Bruce Rueben, president of MHHP. "This law will improve patient safety," Rueben says. "Minnesota hospitals fought hard to create this web-based registry. By capturing and sharing information on medical accidents regardless of whether or not a patient is harmed, hospitals can provide safer care and prevent mistakes before they happen."

Scott Anderson, vice president of information services with MHHP, says a key aspect of the system is that it is voluntary. "Hospitals understand the importance of learning from each other," Anderson says. "This system will help facilitate that process because it is designed to capture both adverse events and near misses."

MHHP launched a pilot program with a few hospitals in June, with plans for a statewide rollout later in 2001. The new law will take effect Aug. 1, 2001.