The Fate of Senate Hearings on Patient Safety-What Now?

On July 17, 2014, the US Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging heard testimony concerning the state of patient safety in this country. The testimony was bleak and called for immediate action to fix an ailing system that too often fails to adequately provide safe and affordable healthcare to our nation’s citizens. The testimony is compelling and authoritative. Here is an excerpt from John James Ph.D, founder of Patient Safety America, whose 19-year-old son died after collapsing during a run. According to his research, supported by other medical experts, his death was due to preventable medical errors. “The Senate should establish a stand-alone committee on improving patient safety. It should establish a National Patient Safety Board (like the National Transportation Safety Board) to investigate patient harm.

Congress should also pass a national patients’ bill of rights containing rights like those enjoyed by workers and minorities. . .Patient safety is not going to improve substantially until the ‘playing field’ between the ill patient and the healthcare industry is leveled by an enforced bill of rights. Despite our high per capita expenditures on healthcare, our industry ranks last overall when compared to systems in other developed countries.” Dr. James’ testimony is just one of a number of expert witnesses who appeared before the Senate Subcommittee and offered compelling testimony that this healthcare crisis must be addressed by the federal government. Yet, nothing has come from that day of testimony. Now is the time to write to your Senator to demand action. Too many people die as a result of preventable medical errors.