The Medical Group Management Association has joined the chorus of voices calling for new data on medical errors following last year's release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on the matter.
That report said that 98,000 patients die in hospitals every year as a result of medical errors. However, the report used data that was from 6 to 16 years old, leading to allegations that patient-safety policy was based on outdated information.
But unlike those other voices, the MGMA is actually asking Congress to give HHS more money to spend on medical-errors research--particularly those errors that occur in outpatient settings.
"Right now, the provider community isn't squeaking very much," said William Jessee, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the MGMA. "This is new as a political issue but old as a professional issue."
The MGMA, which represents 7,100 medical group practices, is "deeply concerned about the lack of adequate funds" for medical-errors research in President Clinton's fiscal 2001 budget proposal, said Jessee, a former vice president of quality at the American Medical Association who also held two top posts from 1990 to 1994 at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations.
The Clinton budget allocates $20 million for efforts to reduce medical errors. The funds would go to HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
"That pales in comparison to what is spent on AIDS and breast cancer research," Jessee said, noting that the Clinton budget proposes that $2 billion be spent on AIDS research and $448 million on breast cancer research.
"And, according to the IOM report, more people die each year from medical errors than from AIDS or breast cancer."
The MGMA wants funds for the healthcare research agency to be increased by another $10 million, with at least $5 million set aside for medical-errors research that gathers data from ambulatory-care settings. The group is also working with other healthcare lobbies to build support for its proposal.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Group Association said it plans to research medical errors but hasn't found a think tank to take on the task.