3/13/2003

ASHP Supports Voluntary Medical Error Reporting Bill Passed by House

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) applauds the legislation passed yesterday by the House of Representatives that creates a system for voluntary reporting of medical errors or near misses. The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 663) also establishes a national patient safety database to analyze error reports and recommend best practices.

“This legislation is an important step in creating the ‘culture of safety’ necessary to protect patients from serious errors,” said Henri R. Manasse, Jr., PhD, ScD, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer.  “Humans make mistakes so it’s essential to create a system that can catch and correct errors. This bill is a critical element to building a safer health care system.”

ASHP has long advocated for the creation of a national medical error reporting system.  The Society’s Center on Patient Safety has spearheaded initiatives to facilitate greater pharmacist involvement in designing fail-safe medication-use systems, including compiling a compendium of evidence-based safe practices and promoting the new concept of medication safety officers and teams within health systems. 

In its 1999 report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health Care System,” the Institute of Medicine recognized the vital role pharmacists play in reducing medication errors and improving patient safety.  Since that time, ASHP has worked closely with Congress to develop legislation to address this critical public health issue.

As the Senate considers its version of the legislation, ASHP will continue its efforts to strengthen the proposal.  “Sharing information about medical errors will go a long way to improve patient safety,” said Manasse.  “If a voluntary reporting system is to be truly successful, providers must have confidence that the information they report will be protected.” The bill also requires the FDA to issue regulations that require drug manufacturers to include machine-readable coding on all drug packages.  Earlier today, the FDA issued a proposed rule requiring bar coding on drug packages.  This legislation will ensure that a final rule is issued in a timely manner.

“We are also happy to see several provisions in the bill that will promote and enhance the use of information technology systems in hospitals and health systems,” Manasse added.

In an another effort to monitor and improve the medication-use process,the FDA announced today a proposed rule to require drug and biologic manufacturers to submit to the FDA all reports they receive from health care providers, patients, and others regarding actual or potential medication-related complications.  Such reports would have to use internationally agreed upon reporting standards.  ASHP commends the FDA for its efforts to strengthen its ability to monitor the safety of drugs and biologic products.

ASHP is the 30,000-member national professional association that represents pharmacists who practice in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care, and other components of health care systems. ASHP, which has a long history of medication-error prevention efforts, believes that the mission of pharmacists is to help people make the best use of medicines. Assisting pharmacists in fulfilling this mission is ASHP's primary objective. The Society has extensive publishing and educational programs designed to help members improve their professional practice, and it is the national accrediting organization for pharmacy residency and pharmacy technician training programs. For more information, visit www.ashp.org or www.safemedication.com 


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