President Bush's 2003 budget plan to be released this week proposes $10 million in new federal funding for projects to reduce medical errors, bringing the department's total to $84 million, HHS announced.
Joining a growing throng of patient-safety advocates, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that the new money would aim to encourage hospitals and other providers to use underutilized patient-safety technology and fund increased oversight of medical errors and other incidents jeopardizing patient safety.
The announcement of the new funding comes just two weeks after the Leapfrog Group, an organization of large healthcare purchasers, released ratings of how hospitals nationwide were complying with three patient-safety standards (Jan. 21, p. 4). The work of Leapfrog, along with other quality-monitoring and accreditation agencies, was driven by findings by the Institute of Medicine that medical errors cause up to 98,000 deaths per year.
Bush's proposal would add $5 million to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's patient-safety efforts-budgeted this year at $60 million. The additional money would be used to fund grants to providers that adopt proven but underused patient-safety technologies and to train patient-safety experts who will provide technical support to states wanting to improve patient safety.
The other $5 million would go to the Food and Drug Administration to respond to and follow up on reports of patient harm or death occurring from the use of FDA-regulated drugs or technology. The new money would bring the FDA's patient-safety budget total to $22 million.
Bush's budget also will give $2 million again in 2003 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop an Internet-based reporting system to track how patients acquire infections in hospitals.