A bill that would protect providers who report medical errors passed the House last night by a vote of 418-6; it now moves to the Senate for consideration. The bill -- sponsored by Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.) -- would encourage the reporting of medical errors by banning hospitals from disciplining employees who report errors and prohibiting patient-safety organizations from taking action against providers in connection with such reports. Some $25 million would be allocated in both fiscal 2004 and 2005 for information-technology grants to providers. The proposal may encounter trouble in the Senate, where some lawmakers are concerned that voluntary reporting won't be effective. Despite voting for the bill, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said patients wouldn't necessarily be safer because the legislation wouldn't compel providers to change their practices. The American Hospital Association supports the bill. -- by Jeff Tieman
Medical-errors bill passes House, now faces Senate
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