Mo. Governor Forms Group to Reduce Medical Errors

September 29, 2003

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden announced the creation the 17-member Missouri Commission on Patient Safety to improve the quality of health care and further reduce the number of medical malpractice claims in the state

“Despite the recent upsurge in attention to malpractice litigation in the state and how to reduce the cost for physicians, the best outcome for all concerned is the prevention of medical errors that have devastating effects on the physical, emotional, professional and financial well-being of patients and families,” Holden said in a statement.

Establishment of the commission is another aspect of the administration’s multi-faceted approach to resolving availability and affordability problems with medical malpractice insurance in Missouri.

“This is a highly qualified group of Missourians who can identify both immediate and long-term ways to elevate overall medical standards and outcomes in the state,” Holden said. “All the national studies indicate that the overwhelming majority of medical malpractice victims do not file insurance claims or lawsuits, and their needs have not been addressed in the current public debate.”

Holden and the Missouri Department of Insurance earlier backed a package of legislative changes to reform the insurance industry and reverse a court ruling that effectively struck down Missouri’s longstanding cap on non-economic damage awards. The department in July authorized establishment of a state-sponsored insurance program to provide coverage for specialties that are having difficulty obtaining coverage in the current market.

Holden said he expects the commission to make a report in 2004 on any legislative and administrative changes that the state should address. He said he plans to give the commission time to study and recommend improvements in several areas, including voluntary hospital protocols, innovative professional training, patient education, and other methods for improving patient safety.

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