MMS to Participate in Patient Safety, Medical Malpractice Projects

By Alice Coombs, M.D., MMS President

justice scales 1I’m pleased to report that Massachusetts has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fund planning and demonstration projects to improve patient safety and reform the medical liability system.  The grants for the projects – both of which include the Medical Society as a collaborator – are part of an initiative announced by President Obama last September in his address to Congress and were announced on Friday as part of a $25 million program by HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Our state was one of only two (along with Washington) to receive both a demonstration and a planning grant. Seven projects were awarded a demonstration grant; only 13 a planning grant.

That Massachusetts has received two grants is good news indeed. It is first a testimony to the work that so many in the state are doing in the area of patient safety and recognizes the Commonwealth as a leader in patient safety and reducing medical errors. Second, it signifies recognition that the medical liability system is sorely lacking, and the need to fix it remains a priority in health care reform.

Such recognition comes right from The White House itself.  Writing on The White House Blog, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., the President’s Special Advisor for Health Policy with the Office of Management and Budget, said “The HHS Patient Safety and Medical Liability initiative program represents the largest investment in malpractice reform by the Federal government in at least 20 years. It will give states and health systems the information they need to improve their malpractice systems, making them more fair and efficient for both patients and doctors.” 

The Medical Society is playing key roles in both projects. For Dr. Kenneth Sands’ project at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, we’ll be sharing information on tort reform and medical liability models and assisting in the distribution of educational materials.  For Alice Bonner’s project at the Department of Public Health, we’ll be performing an advisory role in providing the physician perspective on medical errors, and we”ll be working with other participating partners in educational programs.

Details on all the projects are available at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s website at Medical Liability Reform & Patient Safety Initiative.

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