Skip banner
HomeHow Do I?Site MapHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: patients bill of rights, House or Senate or Joint

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 100 of 268. Next Document

More Like This
Copyright 2000 Federal News Service, Inc.  
Federal News Service

 View Related Topics 

January 26, 2000, Wednesday


LENGTH: 710 words


 I commend the Chairman for holding this hearing and I join in welcoming the representatives of the Institute of Medicine committee, the health care community, and Gail Devers. I want to add a particular welcome to one of the members of the I.O.M committee -- Dr. Lucien Leape. He's an Adjunct Professor for Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Health Sciences Division at RAND. He's been a pioneer on patient safety for many years and has conducted many of the basic studies on medical errors. I commend Dr. Leape and the I.O.M committee for their outstanding contribution in calling attention to the compelling need for national action to reduce medical mistakes and improve patient safety.

Medical errors are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Each day, more than 250 people die because of mistakes -- the equivalent of a major airplane crash each day and every day. The annual financial cost is enormous with estimates running as high as $29 billion dollars a year just for preventable medical mistakes. Reducing these errors can save lives and avoid countless family tragedies. The field of anesthesia undertook such an effort almost twenty years ago. The number of deaths from errors in administering anesthesia dropped from 60 deaths for every 300,000 patients in the early 1980s to just one death for 300,000 people today, a reduction of 98 percent. Our goal should be equal or even greater success in reducing other types of medical mistakes.

According to the Institute of Medicine report, the vast majority of these mistakes are caused by flaws in the health system that encourage such errors, not by outright negligence of individual doctors or nurses. Our hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers want to do the right thing. Improving the design of the health system will greatly reduce medical mistakes.

To do so, the Institute of Medicine report recommends the creation of a national Center for Patient Safety, as a clearinghouse for safety information, and to guide research on the problem, set safety goals, and assess progress in achieving them.

The report also calls for the establishment of both mandatory and voluntary reporting systems to identify medical mistakes. Although many health care facilities have internal reporting systems, more than 95% of medical errors go unreported. These are lost opportunities to learn from the mistakes and make the changes needed to prevent them in the future.

The President has asked the leaders of relevant agencies and departments in the Administration to study the I.O.M. recommendations and report back on February 7 with their own recommendations on the need for legislation and the feasability of instituting measures to decrease medical errors and increase patient safety. It may well be that we can achieve significant success in many areas without legislation, and I look forward to this important report.

Finally, there are some who may try to use this very real and very pressing issue to confuse and further delay the action on the Patients' Bill of Rights. Clearly, preventing mistakes by doctors and hospitals is important, but it is no substitute for enacting strong protections for patients against abuses by HMOs and other insurance companies.

The Patients' Bill of Rights passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. It is a needed response that would end the well- documented and deliberate actions of HMOs and other insurance companies that deny patients needed care. The debate on medical mistakes relates to unintentional actions that lead to breakdowns in the health care that patients receive, and it requires a very different solution.

We can complete action on the Patients' Bill of Rights and send a strong bill to the President very quickly. But we are just beginning to explore the medical errors issue. I am optimistic about our ability to find a solution with broad bipartisan support, but it makes no sense to delay action on the Patients' Bill of Rights now.

Today's hearing is an important step on medical mistakes, and I look forward to working with the members of our Committee to deal with this serious problem as quickly and effectively as possible.


LOAD-DATE: January 27, 2000

Previous Document Document 100 of 268. Next Document


Search Terms: patients bill of rights, House or Senate or Joint
To narrow your search, please enter a word or phrase:
About LEXIS-NEXIS® Congressional Universe Terms and Conditions Top of Page
Copyright © 2001, LEXIS-NEXIS®, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.