Circulation 36,825 • Volume 17, No. 3 • Fall 2002

APSF Endorses New Patient Safety Legislation

The Executive Committee of the APSF announces its endorsement of Senate Bill S2590 introduced by Senators Jeffords, Frist, Breaux, and Gregg. This bill is titled “Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act.” This legislation provides privilege and confidentiality to patient safety data reported to a duly constituted “patient safety organization.” Such reports and analyses thereof would be largely protected from discovery or subpoena in litigation, or from being admitted in evidence. As such, the legislation advances a goal long advocated by the APSF, and endorsed in the IOM report “To Err Is Human,” which is to foster uninhibited reporting of safety-related occurrences for appropriate analysis and dissemination by patient safety experts. Passage of this legislation would help to encourage the formation of event reporting and analysis systems in the private sector, analogous to the aviation systems operated by NASA (ASRS) and to the Veterans Health Administration’s Patient Safety Reporting System (PSRS).

Careful analysis of the proposed legislation by experts on the APSF Task Force on Legal Issues of Data Collection and Analysis identified some aspects of the bill that could be strengthened as it evolves toward final passage. For example, disclosure of otherwise protected data would be allowed under certain specified circumstances. APSF consultants suggest that fostering event reporting and analysis would be improved if the permitted disclosures were minimized.

Nonetheless, the APSF believes that the primary protections offered by this legislation would be a major step forward for advancing patient safety, and thus the APSF strongly endorses its passage by both houses of Congress, and its signature into law by the President.

To see further information about S2590 enter “S2590” at the “Bill Number” field under “Search Bill Text 107th Congress” on