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Clinton seeks to reduce medical errors, promote patient safety
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an effort to reduce the number of medical mistakes that may be killing as many as 98,000 people annually, President Bill Clinton unveiled a series of initiatives Tuesday -- including one that seeks to have hospitals report such errors.
After a recent federal advisory panel reported that between 44,000 and 98,000 people in the United States die each year from preventable medical errors, Clinton promised to create a plan to reduce those mistakes.
The fatality estimate makes preventable medical errors the eighth leading cause of death in the United States -- above car accidents, breast cancer or AIDS, according to The Institute of Medicine.
Of these "adverse medical events," medication mistakes make up about 7,000 of the deaths annually, the institute said.
The Clinton administration's goal is to cut the medical errors in half over the next five years. Those mistakes can range from botched surgeries to misunderstandings over dosages and effects of prescription drugs and can cost $29 billion in hospital expense.
Among the steps Clinton announced:
Veterans hospitals and those run by the Pentagon will be ordered to set up a mandatory reporting system and to modernize their current patient safety systems to minimize medical errors.
The more than 6,000 hospitals participating in Medicare will be required to have error reduction programs in place, including methods for preventing errors in administering medications.
The Food and Drug Administration will be asked to develop new standards to reduce one drug being mistaken for another because of similar names and packaging; to reduce oversights of drug-to-drug interaction; and to expand mandatory reporting requirements for all 3,000 blood banks.
The White House will propose $33 million in the fiscal 2001 year budget -- 65 percent more than last year -- for medical error reporting systems at the FDA.
The budget would also include a $20 million budget request for research into medical errors and a new Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. That's a 500 percent increase over last year.
Clinton's plan calls for states to set up the error reporting systems. States would use that data to determine what steps are leading to the mistakes and what steps could be taken to prevent them.
The White House would support legislation that would protect the rights of patients to obtain information about a medical error that has occurred but also protect the privacy of hospitals' review processes from becoming involved in litigation through the discovery process.
Clinton orders task force to seek reduction in medical errors
Institute of Medicine
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