Kennedy: The Senate should pass error reporting bill immediately

LETTER — Posted June 21, 2004

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Regarding "Patient safety legislation -- an urgent call to action" (Column, May 17):

In his recent commentary, AMA President Donald J. Palmisano, MD, urged the Senate to act without further delay on legislation to establish a national voluntary system in which medical professionals can report information on medical errors or near-errors, with clear guarantees that the reports will not be subject to legal discovery. I agree.

America has the finest and most dedicated physicians in the world.

They work long and hard and well to provide the best possible care to their patients, and they deserve the same type of voluntary reporting system that has improved safety in other industries. Such reporting can be an important step in improving the quality of health care as well. Effective action to create a reporting system with full legal privilege for the information reported has been stalled for too long in the Senate.

The AMA has shown impressive leadership in resolving the impasse. Its representatives in Washington have worked effectively with Republicans, Democrats, and advocacy groups from across the political spectrum, and have produced a consensus proposal that deserves immediate action.

I support this thoughtful proposal, and I hope the Senate will approve it without delay. Physicians, patients, and the entire health care system have waited too long for the information and protection that this proposal will provide.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/06/21/edlt0621.htm.

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