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Lawmakers move forward on patient safety surveys

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida patients would have access to new information about hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers under a proposal moving through the Legislature.

The measure (HB 763) would require hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to conduct anonymous patient-safety culture surveys of staff members. Facilities would have to conduct the surveys biennially and submit the data to the state Agency for Health Care Administration. The bill would require the agency to collect, compile and publish the survey results for each facility.

Incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, has tried unsuccessfully to pass similar legislation in the past, but hospital lobbyists have signed off on this year’s bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Grant, R-Port Charlotte. Sprowls, who will become speaker in November, downplayed that his powerful position swayed the industry to go along with the proposal. He said news reports about deaths and injuries of children at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach over the years have played a role in hospitals signing onto the bill.

“Unfortunately, it’s these tragedies that have happened that have really made people understand the importance of the bill,” Sprowls told The News Service of Florida.

Current law requires hospitals, ambulatory surgical center emergency departments and comprehensive rehabilitation hospitals to report data to AHCA quarterly. But Sprowls said the detailed information isn’t consumer-friendly. The patient-safety culture surveys would enable the state to provide information that consumers can use.

“What the culture surveys will do is say to a nurse, ‘Would you have surgery at this hospital or would you recommend this hospital to a family member?’” Sprowls said. “I think those things are all things that we can identify.” The bill is ready for consideration by the full House.

The Senate Health Policy Committee unanimously approved the Senate version (SB 1370) on Tuesday. It must be considered by two more panels before the full Senate could take it up.