The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the Joint Commission and other provider and quality-improvement organizations have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt urging him to speed up the process that ultimately would give congressionally mandated patient-safety organizations their direction and guidance.
We know that (HHS) staff has worked diligently to draft regulations, the letter states. But, those regulations have yet to be published as a proposed rulethe first step in moving toward a final regulation. Instead, they are languishing in the review and clearance process.
Born out of the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005, newly created patient safety organizations would have the authority to collect and analyze adverse-event reports as a way to better identify root causesand ultimately help prevent future errorsin the medical setting. To allay longstanding fears that the sharing of such information could come back to haunt providers either in court or in the checkbook, the law offers a wide raft of legal protections, including monetary penalties for breaches of confidentiality and privilege protections.
Improving patient safety is too important to allow this regulation to be delayed further, the letter states. We urge you to promptly publish a proposed rule. -- by Matthew DoBias
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