Friday, June 22, 2007

Assembly Passes Moriarty.Greenstein.Fisher Bill Requiring Public Reporting Of Hosptial Errors

(TRENTON) - The Assembly today passed legislation Assembly members Paul Moriarty, Linda R. Greenstein, and Douglas H. Fisher sponsored to require annual public disclosure of serious medical mistakes made in New Jersey.

"Vital consumer information like hospital error reports should not be hidden away from public scrutiny," said Moriarty (D-Gloucester). "Patients shouldn't have to wonder if a clerical error will leave them recovering from an operation they didn't want or need."

The Moriarty/Greenstein/Fisher legislation (A-4327) would seek to make the public aware of the number of serious preventable adverse events that occur at each health care facility in the state. The legislation would require that a report be made available to the public that would list how many of these events took place at each facility. The report would not include identifying information about patients and facility employees to avoid exposing the facility to greater legal liability.

"Going to a hospital for an operation or procedure is stressful enough without having to worry about whether the hospital staff might make a mistake," said Greenstein (D-Middlesex). "Allowing the public access to hospital error reports will improve patient peace of mind and continue to place New Jersey at the vanguard of patient safety."

According to the bill sponsors, hospital error reporting is already required under New Jersey's 2004 "Patient Safety Act," which established a medical error reporting system for health care facilities in an effort to minimize errors. These reports, however, are not readily available to the public.

"Knowing that the public will have access to error reports will make hospitals work that much harder to ensure patient safety," said Fisher (D-Cumberland). "And that knowledge should make every visit to the hospital a little less unnerving."

The bill would require the Departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), in consultation with Human Services (DHS), to prepare a report on hospital performance on patient safety measures. The report is to include, at a minimum, the number of serious preventable adverse events that have resulted in either:


Loss of a body part:

Disability or loss of bodily function lasting more than seven days or still present at the time of discharge from a health care facility.
The report would be presented in a format which enables comparison among health care facilities in particular facility categories with respect to the information. In the event of general hospitals, the information is to be included in the New Jersey Hospital Performance Report annually issued by DHSS that measures the performance of general hospitals in the Senate. The report would be available to the public via the DHSS Web site:

The provisions of the bill would become effective either one year after enactment or one year after the adoption of the regulations for the "Patient Safety Act," whichever comes later.

According to information from the Institute of Medicine, approximately 98,000 deaths occur nationally each year as a result of major preventable medical errors. In 2005, New Jersey hospitals reported 376 medical errors.
The Assembly passed the bill 74 to 4 with one abstention. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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