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Wednesday, February 26th 2003

The Honorable Nancy Johnson
U.S. House of Representatives
1136 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairwoman Johnson:

On behalf of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and its more than 5,000 member hospitals, health care systems, networks and other providers of care, I am writing to express our support for the Patient Safety Improvement Act (H.R.877).

We commend your leadership and dedication in putting together a bill that lays out a common-sense approach to improving patient safety – a goal that is at the heart of every hospital's mission.

The AHA is committed to seeing enactment of patient safety legislation that will help create a “culture of safety” in which nurses, doctors and others can share information when adverse events happen, engage appropriate outside experts in the analysis of patient safety concerns, and, together, enhance our knowledge of how to prevent medical errors.

As you have recognized, a major obstacle stands in the way of such openness.  Currently, patient safety information that is shared among providers or with outside experts is not confidential and is subject to legal proceedings.  The Institute of Medicine has called on Congress to knock down this barrier by providing legal protection for information collected to advance patient safety research and education.  This bill works toward this goal – a goal the nation’s hospitals strongly support.

We want to continue to work with you and your staff to ensure that patient safety legislation enacted this session creates a voluntary, protected system for sharing information, and does not include any punitive or ambiguous provisions that would clearly undermine this goal.


Rick Pollack
Executive Vice President


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