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Old July 24th, 2004, 17:05
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Joint Commission Hails Senate Passage of Patient Safety Bill




OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., July 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations today applauded the U.S. Senate's passage of the bipartisan Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act.

"This brings us one step closer to what we hope will become a major victory for America's patients, health care professionals, and health care organizations," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., president, Joint Commission. "Allowing health care errors and serious events to be reported in a voluntary and confidential manner, without the threat of legal repercussions, will provide new opportunities for all of us to learn from mistakes and actively pursue specific improvements in patient safety."

The Joint Commission, an active proponent of the patient safety legislation, congratulated the Senate leadership for working together to pass the bill. "The single most important thing Congress can do to enhance patient safety is to enact this legislation," says O'Leary. "The legislative language strikes the right balance between assuring patient and public access to information they are entitled to receive, and creating a safe harbor for other sensitive information that relates to individual patient care incidents."

The Joint Commission first urged Congress to pass legislation similar to this bill in 1997. In 2000, the Joint Commission led the establishment of a coalition of leading health care organizations to encourage Congress to enact patient safety legislation.

The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act would -- toward the goal of improving patient safety and health care quality -- establish a system for reporting and analyzing health care errors and adverse events in an environment that is free from blame. Such a culture allows organizations to explore in depth what happened, why it happened, and what steps need to be taken to avoid such errors from ever occurring again. An environment that facilitates the open flow of critical information is essential to learning.

The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in 2003. The Joint Commission looks forward to an expeditious and successful conference between the House and Senate followed by President Bush's sign-off on this bedrock initiative to improve the safety of health care for all patients.

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Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that support performance improvement in health care organizations. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 16,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including nearly 8,000 hospitals and home care organizations, and more than 8,000 other health care organizations that provide long term care, assisted living, behavioral health care, laboratory and ambulatory care services. The Joint Commission also accredits health plans, integrated delivery networks, and other managed care entities. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards- setting and accrediting body in health care.


http://www.usnewswire.com/

[7/23/2004 3:53:00 PM, Contact: Charlene D. Hill of The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, 630-792-5175 or chill@jcaho.org]
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