7/23/2004

ASHP Applauds Medical Error Reporting Bill Passed by Senate

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) applauds legislation passed yesterday by the U.S. Senate that creates a system for voluntary reporting of medical errors or near misses.  The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (S. 720) mandates a national patient safety database to analyze error reports and sets the stage for the adoption of national health care information technology standards that promote safety.

“This legislation helps create a new paradigm for patient safety in our nation’s hospitals and health systems,” said ASHP President T. Mark Woods, Pharm.D., FASHP.  “Removing the traditional culture of blame surrounding medical errors and replacing it with a culture of education about the systemic processes that lead to adverse events will go a long way toward protecting patients.”

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.

“This legislation would allow pharmacists and other health care providers to share information when errors happen, work with outside experts to analyze why those events happen, and work together to prevent future occurrences,” said Henri R. Manasse, Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D., ASHP executive vice president and CEO. “It is a real step forward in our ongoing fight to protect patient safety.”

The House of Representatives passed similar legislation in March 2003. The Senate and House bills will now go to conference committee for consideration. ASHP will continue to work with the 108th Congress to get the bill enacted prior to adjournment.

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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