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Autonomy of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority In Jeopardy?

Last week, we reported on the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority’s poster campaign, which was aimed at giving healthcare providers and patients information on how they can be more engaged with each other. The future of the Authority, which collects reports of medical errors and near errors in an attempt to prevent mistakes in the future, seems to be in jeopardy due to Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed budget plan, which would fold the Authority, as well as the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, into the state Department of Health.

Earlier this month, the Authority’s board adopted a resolution calling on Corbett and the General Assembly to leave it alone, saying the consolidation would diminish its information collection and education. Other critics of Corbett’s proposal fear that the consolidation threatens to compromise the agencies’ public missions and make them subject to political influence.

The Authority’s board members also noted that the Authority does not spend taxpayer money – it is funded by assessments on hospitals and other health care providers, an arrangement approved 10 years ago. The Cost Containment Council, which provides data on outcomes for specific hospitals and other health care providers to identify the most effective and efficient within their fields, receives 2.6 million a year from the state, which amounts to about 0.01 percent of the state’s $27.14 billion proposed budget.

Safe and cost-effective health care should be a priority for every Pennsylvanian. Hospitals, doctors, and trial lawyers all agree that independent outside monitoring improves service delivery for hospitals, health care professionals, and patients. We will keep you posted on developments as the consolidation plan continues to go through the budget process.

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