Pennsylvania Physician General Robert Muscalus, D.O., will devote all of his time to a year-old but largely dormant statewide medical error reporting system, state officials say.
Secretary of Health Calvin Johnson, M.D., announced today that Muscalus will become full-time head of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, a nonregulatory entity charged with collecting voluntarily reported error data and using the information to promote patient safety at healthcare facilities.
"Dr. Muscalus' experience, commitment to and expertise in the area of patient safety make him an obvious choice to assist with Pennsylvania's efforts to enhance the delivery and increase the quality and safety of healthcare," Johnson says in a written statement.
The state formed the authority last year and began collecting confidential data from hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers and birthing centers on medical errors and near misses. But it did not do anything with the data until Department of Health officials picked a vendor last week to develop a formal reporting system.
"The data has just been sitting around," says Pennsylvania Medical Society spokesperson Charles Moran. "This just gets the process moving," he says of the vendor selection.
However, Moran says he is not sure if the directive for Muscalus to spend all of his time on the Patient Safety Authority is anything more than a symbolic gesture.
"I don't know if it changes any of his job responsibilities," Moran says.
A Health Department spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The medical society supported the legislation that created the 11-member Patient Safety Authority and remains in favor the reporting effort, according to Moran.