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HFES News and Bulletin

Public Policy Matters: Legislation to Fund Medical Simulation Has Implications for HF/E Professionals
Friday, July 24, 2009

By Mark W. Scerbo, Old Dominion University

The U.S. Congress is working on a major overhaul of the nation’s health care system. However, a separate piece of legislation that has the potential to benefit many in the human factors/ergonomics (HF/E) community has already been introduced.

The Enhancing SIMULATION (Safety In Medicine Utilizing Leading Advanced Simulation Technologies to Improve Outcomes Now) Act of 2009 (H.R. 855) was introduced by J. Randy Forbes (R-VA, 4th District) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI, 1st District) on February 4. On March 17, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 616). The Enhancing SIMULATION Act would do the following:

  1. Instruct the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to increase the use of simulation technologies and equipment in health care;
     
  2. create medical simulation centers of excellence;
     
  3. authorize grants for purchasing simulation training technology, incorporating medical simulation technology into curricula, and studying simulation-based methods for credentialing and accreditation; and
     
  4. authorize $50 million for 2010 and additional funding for subsequent years.

This legislation would greatly expand opportunities for evidence-based research in health care. It provides funding for much of the work that HF/E practitioners do in health care and related areas (e.g., safety, testing and evaluation, team training, virtual reality). Simulation technology allows HF/E researchers and educators in other high-risk domains to go about their work while reducing unnecessary risks. 

Those interested in learning more about this legislation can find additional information, including how to contact members of Congress regarding H.R. 855 or S. 616, on the Advanced Initiatives in Medical Simulation (AIMS) Web site at http://www.medsim.org/advocacy.asp or the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSIH) Public Affairs & Government Relations Committee (PAGR) information page at http://www.ssih.org.

Rarely does Congress consider legislation that, if passed, could have such a direct impact on so many HF/E professionals. The Enhancing SIMULATION Act has the potential to benefit the HF/E community and improve the safety of our national health care system.

This information is provided to HFES members for information purposes only and does NOT represent an official position or call to action from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

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