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Panel okays medical error bill

The proposal would provide consumers with a tally of mistakes at each hospital in the state.

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 31, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Over the objections of hospitals, a House committee on Thursday approved a bill that would require hospitals to file public report cards of all adverse incidents.

Rep. Larry Crow, R-Palm Harbor, sponsored the bill, saying he believes consumers should be able to check hospital report cards on the Internet before determining where they will go for medical care.

Citing a November 1999 report on medical errors, Crow said research has suggested that such errors kill between 44,000 and 98,000 people a year, more than the number of deaths resulting from highway accidents or breast cancer.

Two people who complained of mistakes made at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and at Tampa General Hospital were among those who testified in favor of the bill.

Virginia Pope, a Miami Beach resident, said her 88-year-old mother, Lillian Pope, died at Bayfront last year after a series of mistakes that should have been prevented.

Ray McEachern said mistakes that have left his wife with serious medical problems occurred at Tampa General.

Under current law, county-by-county statistics are available on adverse medical incidents, but a hospital-by-hospital breakdown is unavailable.

Lobbyists for the state's teaching hospitals and the Florida Hospital Association said it would be unfair to publish such a list. The state's six teaching hospitals take high-risk patients, argued lobbyist Mark Delegal.

"We believe it will have the opposite impact of what the supporters of this bill want," argued Bill Bell, lobbyist for the Florida Hospital Association. "It will be confusing and misleading to consumers and result in fewer reports being generated."

The House committee, led by Rep. Mike Fasano, R-Port Richey, rejected several amendments designed to dilute the bill and approved it on an 11-2 vote. But the bill has a long way to go before becoming law.

It has two more committee stops in the House, and a companion bill sponsored by Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite has yet to be heard in the Senate.

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