Minnesota passes patient safety law

August 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has signed a bill that will allow hospitals, doctors and healthcare professionals across the state to share patient safety information.

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura has signed a bill that will allow hospitals, doctors and healthcare professionals across the state to share patient safety information.

The law, which takes effect August 1, 2001, changes the Minnesota Peer Review Statute, which previously focused on learning from medical accidents, but inhibited the exchange of information from one hospital to the next to avoid litigation.

The new law allows hospitals, doctors and medical staff to anonymously report medical errors in a Web-based registry that can be aggregated and accessed by other healthcare professionals and the public to prevent the same errors from occurring at other sites. This information will be available to hospitals throughout the state. Individual patient and caregiver information is not specified; only the data needed to learn from the event are provided.

"This law will improve patient safety," said Bruce Rueben, president of the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership. "Minnesota hospitals fought hard to create this Web-based registry. By capturing and sharing information on medical accidents regardless of whether or not a patient is harmed, hospitals can provide safer care and prevent mistakes before they happen."

Learning from mistakes

The new law does not diminish the responsibility of providers to report medical accidents in cases in which a patient is harmed. But Scott Anderson, vice president of information services for the MHHP, said the new program will enable healthcare providers to learn from others' mistakes.

"What makes this system truly unique is that it is voluntary," said Anderson. "Hospitals understand the importance of learning from each other. This system will help facilitate that process because it is designed to capture both adverse events and near misses." PR

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