A bill headed to President Bush for his signature would establish some legal protections for providers that share information on medical errors with designated patient-safety organizations.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.), passed the House 428-3, after being approved unanimously in the Senate Thursday. In general, the bill would guarantee the confidentiality of information reported to patient-safety organizations approved by HHS. It would bar accreditation agencies and employers from taking action against a provider or employee based on the provider's or employee's good-faith participation in data-gathering or reporting.
Among other elements, the bill also would require HHS to facilitate the exchange of data between patient-safety organizations, to develop voluntary national standards for electronic data exchange, and to hire a research organization to study the impact of new medical technologies and therapies.