NEBRASKA LEGISLATURE

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Sen. Mark Kolterman

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24

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February 15th – Weekly Column
February 15th, 2019

It may seem odd that one would have to mandate the prioritization of patient safety in the state, but that’s exactly what I proposed in 2018 and is what I reintroduced this year through LB25.

As background on the issue, the federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (Patient Safety Act) authorized the creation of Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs) to improve the quality and safety of U.S. health care delivery. The Patient Safety Act encouraged clinicians and health care organizations to voluntarily report and share quality and patient safety information without fear of legal discovery.

Following the implementation of the Patient Safety Act, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Patient Safety Improvement Act in 2005 which protected reported events from discovery and required the establishment of a private, nonprofit PSO to receive those events as patient safety work product. Since Nebraska’s Act allocated zero dollars for funding the PSO, the Nebraska Hospital Association, Nebraska Medical Association, Nebraska Academy of Physician Assistants, Nebraska Pharmacists Association and the Nebraska Nurses Association took the initiative to create Nebraska’s PSO: The Nebraska Coalition for Patient Safety (NCPS).  The mission of NCPS is to increase the likelihood that all people who seek health care in Nebraska are not harmed by the care that is intended to help them.

The NCPS collects data supplied voluntarily from participating hospitals who pay to be members of NCPS. The collected information is disseminated quarterly back to the hospitals. Health care professionals who directly benefit from this information such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and others never see this report as they are not members of the NCPS. Safety issues addressed in the report could include medications errors, falls, sepsis, failure or delayed response, unsafe injections, and retained foreign objects. These are errors we can, and must learn from.

Prior to the 2018 legislative session, The Nebraska Medical Association (NMA) went to the board of the NCPS and asked how the NCPS can be properly funded in order to better collect and disseminate this information. To generate these funds, the NMA brought a legislative proposal to me which called for a $10 per year increase in licensure for physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and nurses to fund the Coalition. I introduced LB 1127 last year because I agreed that a nominal fee of $10 per year in the name of improving patient safety was well worth the investment.

During the hearing last year, I laid out the case for the additional funding needed for the NCPS.  We heard testimony from patient advocacy organizations, the NCPS Board President, physicians, physician assistants, and Nebraska Hospital Association representatives. Despite the oppositions’ testimony that $10 a year is too high an increase of fees, the bill advanced out of committee. Unfortunately, due to the short session and time constraints, we were unable to pass the legislation.

I support patient safety wholeheartedly, as do the members of the NMA, and this session I introduced LB25 to fund the NCPS. This time, the physicians agreed to show their support by increasing their licensure fees by $25 per year ($50 biennially), and the physician assistants agreed to the originally proposed $10 per year ($20 biennially) amount.

The bill was voted unanimously out of the Health and Human Services Committee and advanced on General File 33-0. When we have groups who are willing to step up to the plate and volunteer to contribute more of their hard earned dollars, I don’t know how anyone can oppose the effort to further excellent health care and patient safety. Like I said, it may seem odd that we need to mandate the importance of patient safety, but I believe this is an important effort and one I was happy to be a part of.

Last weekend I was also honored to attend the Seward Volunteer Fire Department annual dinner.  Having served as a volunteer fireman for many years, as well as an EMT, I always enjoy gathering with volunteers from fire departments from across the district.

I am happy to support LB 222, which was introduced by State Senator Joni Albrecht.  This legislation provides clarifications to the Volunteer Emergency Responders Incentive Act that was created in 2016.  Under this act and this legislation, once adopted, members of volunteer fire departments can receive a $250 refundable tax credit if they meet certain criteria.  Having volunteer fire departments in Nebraska is such an incredibly important part of our communities and I very much appreciate everything they do for us.

As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is mkolterman@leg.ne.gov, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.

Sen. Mark Kolterman

District 24
Room #2004
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2756
Email: mkolterman@leg.ne.gov
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