The Senate unanimously passed a bill that would set up a confidential, voluntary system of reporting medical errors. Under the bill, doctors and hospitals would be able to report medical errors without fear of being sued.
The stated goal of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act is to encourage providers to report errors so they can be analyzed by patient safety organizations to produce better procedures and safety protocols to improve the quality of care.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the bill last July. The bill must now be reconciled with the House version, passed March 2003.
Senators named to the committee that will negotiate a compromise bill are Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Bill Frist, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and James Jeffords (I-Vt.).
The House has not named its members to the conference committee yet.