Patient safety is now the law of the land

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President Bush last week signed the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (S 544) into law. The bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), creates a national patient safety database designed to promote voluntary reporting of medical errors. It is hoped that the legislation will prevent injuries and deaths that can unfortunately be the result of needless healthcare errors.
   
According to reports, one essential component of the bill is protection for providers from litigation by guaranteeing the confidentiality of those reporting errors to the system. The bill lays out plans for patient-safety organizations, to be certified by the Department of Health and Human Services, to gather the data so that they can be evaluated and used to recommend ways to prevent similar mistakes down the road. It will also be a resource for researchers who will be able to learn in a very speedy manner the latest information regarding treatments.