CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
Quality Healthcare is a Right May 2009
In This Issue
Real Age...a front for pharma?
Surgical site infections

Senate Bill 1049, a pharma gift ban to physicians is alive and well.  A growing coalition has made passage this year a possibility although the pharmaceutical lobby is very strong and powerful.  But the AARP and AMSA - the American Medical students Association have joined our coalition or prescription reform and it has energized us all.  We have had two very positive editorials in the HArtford Courant, two press conferences and a lobby day for the AARP and the medical students.  Just one more month in this year's legislative session.  Hats off to Consumers Union, NAtional Physicians Alliance and Community Catalyst,  National partners maker all the difference.
There is a lot more information about this important campaign on our web site www.ctcps.org
Go on line to view editorials, op eds and other commentary.
Medical Examining Board - 47th in the nation!
CT Center for Patient Safety is getting ready to focus on what it can do to make sure that the public has greater protection and participation in the process filing a complaint. Our initiative is in the hands of an able retired Marine Corps flight pilot who lost his daughter through negligence. We are very tired of the phrase "after a thorough investigation" -which precedes a statement of the standard of care being met.
We need your stories if the DPH failed to take action.  please write to [email protected]
For a full report go to Public Citizen website.
Your contributions help us hold healthcare accountable
Real Age...think twice before you answer those questioins.  From the New York Times
Online Age Quiz Is a Window for Drug Makers
Americans yearn to be young. So it is little wonder that RealAge, which promises to help shave years off your age, has become one of the most popular tests on the Internet.
According to RealAge, more than 27 million people have taken the test, which asks 150 or so questions about lifestyle and family history to assign a "biological age," how young or old your habits make you. Then, RealAge makes recommendations on how to get "younger," like taking multivitamins, eating breakfast and flossing your teeth. Nine million of those people have signed up to become RealAge members.
But while RealAge promotes better living through nonmedical solutions, the site makes its money by selling better living through drugs.
Pharmaceutical companies pay RealAge to compile test results of RealAge members and send them marketing messages by e-mail. The drug companies can even use RealAge answers to find people who show symptoms of a disease - and begin sending them messages about it even before the people have received a diagnosis from their doctors.
While few people would fill out a detailed questionnaire about their health and hand it over to a drug company looking for suggestions for new medications, that is essentially what RealAge is doing.
The test has received widespread publicity because of its affiliation with Dr. Mehmet Oz, a popular author and regular on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Dr. Oz - "America's Doctor," as he is known on Oprah - is a RealAge spokesman and adviser, and his soothing, simple approach to health is reflected in RealAge's message: you can change.
And it has become something of a sensation in the marketing world. Many marketers, online and off, segment potential consumers within broad categories. But RealAge gathers very specific information and, unlike some sites, it gives its consumers an incentive to tell the truth, namely, a chance to live longer.
Whether they are attracted by Dr. Oz's appeal or by the ads all over the Internet for the test, people come to the site, then provide an e-mail address to take it. They are asked throughout the test if they would like a free RealAge membership. If people answer yes to any of the prompts, they become RealAge members, and their test results go into a marketing database.
RealAge allows drug companies to send e-mail messages based on those test results. It acts as a clearinghouse for drug companies, including Pfizer, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, allowing them to use almost any combination of answers from the test to find people to market to, including whether someone is taking antidepressants, how sexually active they are and even if their marriage is happy.
RealAge sends the selected recipients a series of e-mail messages about a condition they might have, usually sponsored by a drug company that sells a medication for that condition.

Hospitals Making Progress, but too many patients fail to get the right care
April 2009
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 290,000 surgical site infections (SSI) occur in U.S. hospitals each year,1 in 2 out of every 100 surgeries, accounting for 20 percent of all hospital-acquired infections. A CDC review of data from 2002 found that 8,205 deaths were associated with surgical site infections.2 An estimated 77 percent of deaths in patients with SSI are directly attributable to the infection. Patients who acquire infections from surgery spend, on average, an additional 6.5 days in the hospital, are five times more likely to be readmitted after discharge, and twice as likely to die.
Moreover, surgical patients who develop infections are 60 percent more likely to require admission to a hospital's intensive care unit.5 Surgical infections are believed to account for up to ten billion dollars annually in health care expenditures.
Surgery patients are at risk for infection because surgical incisions create a pathway for germs to enter the body. Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is therefore critical to protect patients from being contaminated with bacteria, which can lead to infection.
In addition, research shows that the risk of surgical site infections can be reduced if patients are given the appropriate antibiotic within one hour before the first surgical incision is made, depending on the type of surgery and patient characteristics. Another practice, discontinuing
antibiotics within 24 hours after the surgery, is critical to reducing overuse of antibiotics and
antibiotic resistance, a major problem in treating infections. These practices have been identified
by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as key to decreasing the incidence of surgical infections. CMS reports hospitals' compliance levels with these practices on its HospitalCompare website.
An estimated 40 to 60 percent of all surgical site infections could be prevented by following these and other infection revention measures. Other measures found to reduce the incidence of surgical infections include appropriate hair removal for patients (using clippers instead
of razors to avoid creating cuts in the skin, which can allow bacteria to enter the body); keeping patients warm during surgery and maintaining proper serum glucose levels after surgery.