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TAKING NEW STEPS TO ENSURE PATIENT SAFETY
"Ensuring patient safety is not about fixing blame. It's about fixing problems in an increasingly complex system; about creating a culture of safety and an environment where medical errors are not tolerated."
President Bill Clinton
Tuesday, December 7, 1999
Today, at the White House, President Clinton took strong new steps to ensure patient safety through the prevention of medical errors The President held a meeting with health care providers and consumers; signed an executive memorandum directing a federal task force to submit recommendations on improving health care quality and patient safety; and directed federal agencies to evaluate, develop, and implement health care quality and patient safety initiatives. Under the President's action, the over 300 private health plans participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will be required to institute quality improvement and patient safety initiatives.
Preventable Medical Errors Put Patients at Risk. A study released last week by the Institute of Medicine estimates that more than half of the adverse medical events occurring each year are due to preventable medical errors, placing as many as 98,000 Americans at unnecessary risk. In addition to the severe health consequences these errors can cause, their cost in lost income, disability, and health care is as much as $29 billion annually.
Taking New Action to Reduce Medical Errors. President Clinton hosted a meeting with the Institute of Medicine, health care consumers, providers, purchasers, and members of the business and labor communities to discuss the need to prevent medical errors and to provide patients with quality care. After the meeting, the President announced strong new steps he is taking to improve health care quality and patient safety, including:
- Signing an Executive Memorandum directing the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force to develop and submit recommendations within 60 days on improving health care quality and protecting patient safety;
- Requiring that each of the more than 300 private health plans participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, which serves 9 million Americans, institutes quality improvement and patient safety initiatives;
- Instructing federal agencies which administer health plans to evaluate and, where feasible, implement the latest error reduction techniques. This directive includes Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, veterans' hospitals and clinics, and the military health care system, serving over 85 million Americans combined;
- Announcing the reauthorization of the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research, ensuring a multi-million dollar investment in research to improve health care quality;
- Directing the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and other agencies to develop additional error prevention and health care quality initiatives for the FY 2001 budget; and
- Praising the American Hospital Association for launching a new medication safety campaign to help prevent patient medication errors.
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