Realizing that health-care providers must gather information, analyze
it, and share the results with others in order to learn from
medical errors, the House of Representatives passed the Patient
Safety and Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 663). The Act encourages
providers to do research and gather data about the causes of medical
mishaps and then share their findings with other providers in order to
learn ways to remedy systems and practices.
H.R. 663 protects any "information, report, memorandum, analysis,
deliberative work, statement, or root cause analysis" created by or
reported to a patient safety organization. Such organizations have yet to
be named, but will probably include groups already in place to survey
quality and operations among health-care providers.
The information described in the Act will be protected from civil or
administrative subpoenas or orders, discovery process, disclosure under
the Freedom of Information Act, disclosure as evidence in state or federal
civil or administrative proceedings, or use by an accrediting organization
in the accreditation process or to remove accreditation. This protection will
allow hospitals and others to share information freely without fear that the
information will be used against them by malpractice attorneys or others.
If passed by the Senate and enacted, the Act would establish patient
safety organizations to collect data from providers on a voluntary basis
and store it in a national database. Data would be analyzed to determine
best practices and alternative methods for correcting or improving operations
within health-care facilities to prevent future errors from occurring.