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House of Representatives introduces bill to create patient safety agency

por John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | December 13, 2022
Risk Management
The bill is calling to establish an independent federal agency to prevent and reduce medical-related harm.
A new bill on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives is calling for the establishment of an independent federal agency to protect patients from medical-related harm.

Introduced by U.S. Representative Nanette Barragán (D-CA), H.R.9377 - National Patient Safety Board Act of 2022 would set up a national patient safety board (NPSB) that would utilize data-driven solutions to increase prevention and reduction of adverse healthcare events.

Medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the U.S. before the pandemic, with more than 250,000 deaths recorded annually from preventable harm, according to conservative estimates. This cost the U.S. healthcare system more than $17 billion.

The pandemic has made these issues more prevalent, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control.

“To modernize our country’s approach to patient safety, we need an independent entity that can deploy modern technology to conduct a broad evaluation of the healthcare space at the local, state, and federal level and identify ways that health systems can share experiences and insight that will make our systems of care safer for patients,” said Barragán in a statement.

The NPSB would address medication errors, wrong-site surgeries, hospital-acquired infections, errors in pathology labs and problems with transitioning patients from acute to long-term care.

Its solutions would use automated systems with AI algorithms and interdisciplinary research teams to simplify data collection at the frontline and identify factors and practices that could lead to harm.

Additionally, a public-private partnership group, the Healthcare Safety Team, would be established to gain consensus on patient safety measures, autonomous data collection technologies and solutions.

The nonpunitive agency would be modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board and the Commercial Aviation Safety Team, which have improved transportation safety over the last 25 years. It would augment the work of other federal agencies and patient safety organizations without displacing them.

Leaders in healthcare, technology, business, academia and other industries support the idea. “The establishment of a National Patient Safety Board would enable a collaborative, evidence-based and scalable solution to optimize patient safety across our country’s healthcare system,” said Dr. Peter WT Pisters, president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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