Sharing Data About Medical Errors Without Fear of Reprisal

May 1, 2003

Realizing that health-care providers must gather information, analyzeit, and share the results with others in order to learn frommedical errors, the House of Representatives passed the PatientSafety and Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 663). The Act encouragesproviders to do research and gather data about the causes of medicalmishaps and then share their findings with other providers in order tolearn ways to remedy systems and practices.

Realizing that health-care providers must gather information, analyzeit, and share the results with others in order to learn frommedical errors, the House of Representatives passed the PatientSafety and Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 663). The Act encouragesproviders to do research and gather data about the causes of medicalmishaps and then share their findings with other providers in order tolearn ways to remedy systems and practices.H.R. 663 protects any "information, report, memorandum, analysis,deliberative work, statement, or root cause analysis" created by orreported to a patient safety organization. Such organizations have yet tobe named, but will probably include groups already in place to surveyquality and operations among health-care providers.The information described in the Act will be protected from civil oradministrative subpoenas or orders, discovery process, disclosure underthe Freedom of Information Act, disclosure as evidence in state or federalcivil or administrative proceedings, or use by an accrediting organizationin the accreditation process or to remove accreditation. This protection willallow hospitals and others to share information freely without fear that theinformation will be used against them by malpractice attorneys or others.If passed by the Senate and enacted, the Act would establish patientsafety organizations to collect data from providers on a voluntary basisand store it in a national database. Data would be analyzed to determinebest practices and alternative methods for correcting or improving operationswithin health-care facilities to prevent future errors from occurring.