Senate passes error reporting bill

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The U.S. is one step closer to better reporting of medical errors, with the Senate last week approving legislation to create a voluntary and confidential reporting system for reporting medical errors. The bill would allow doctors and hospitals to disclose medical errors without fear of legal action and provide needed information to prevent future medical errors.

Under the bill, healthcare providers can report information on errors to Patient Safety Organizations, which would collect and analyze the data and offer feedback on how to improve care. The bill must now be reconciled with a similar piece of legislation passed by the House last March.

The bill passed out of committee last year, but Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement on several issues. At a signing ceremony at the White House last week, Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) agreed to work to pass the bill.

The House version included information technology provisions such as grants to providers for electronic prescription technology and initiatives for improving care and patient safety, including computerized physician order entry (CPOE), clinical decision support and technology that supports interoperability and data communication.