Corporate Compliance

President Bush approves medical errors database

Compliance Monitor, August 3, 2005

President George W. Bush signed a bill Friday that will create a database for healthcare providers to anonymously report medical errors.

The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 will provide the mechanism for providers to voluntarily report mistakes, and create a way to track those mistakes for the purpose of preventing similar errors in the future.

"To maintain the highest standards of care, doctors and nurses must be able to exchange information about problems and solutions," said President Bush at the signing ceremony. "Yet, in recent years, many doctors have grown afraid to discuss their practices because they worry that the information they provide will be used against them in a lawsuit. This bill will help solve that problem."

Although backers of the bill say it will reduce the number of medical errors, skeptics wonder whether providers will report mistakes if there are no penalties for not reporting, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Still, many healthcare leaders remain optimistic, including American Medical Association President Dr. Edward Hill.

"Future errors can be avoided as we learn from past mistakes," Hill told the Chicago Tribune. "This law strikes the proper balance between confidentiality and the need to ensure responsibility throughout the healthcare system."

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