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California’s Enforcement of Patient Safety Laws Still Lagging

October 20, 2010

California’s Enforcement of Patient Safety Laws Still Lagging
Consumers Union Details How California is Failing to Implement Key Measures
to Reduce Hospital Acquired Infections and Medical Errors

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Department of Public Health has been slow to implement a number of key provisions of recently enacted patient safety laws, according to testimony by Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project at a hearing held today by the California Senate Health Committee. The special oversight hearing was held to examine how well the state has enforced laws to reduce the incidence of hospital acquired infections and other harmful medical errors.

An estimated 240,000 California patients develop infections in hospitals each year, resulting in an approximately 13,500 deaths annually and $3.1 billion in additional health care costs. Medical errors kill as many as 10,000 Californians each year and injure 140,000.

“The state’s track record for ensuring that hospitals are complying with laws that aim to minimize hospital infections and make patient safety information available to the public has been very disappointing,” said Betsy Imholz, Consumers Union’s Special Projects Director. “The Department of Health needs to demonstrate more visionary leadership and dedication to enforcing the law and protecting patients from preventable infections and medical errors.”

A complete copy of Consumers Union’s testimony can be found here.

The Senate Health Committee hearing comes after two recent reports by Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project highlighted how the Department of Health has failed to implement several key provisions of patient safety laws enacted by state lawmakers:

Preventable Harm: California Fails to Follow Through With Patient Safety Laws

Spreading Germs: Low Rates of Flu Vaccinations Among California Healthcare Workers Put Patients at Risk

Michael McCauley: 415-431-6747