CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
Quality Health Care is a Right June 17, 2009
In This Issue
1 in 4 Nursing Home Residents Carries MRSA
Focus on Washington
Myths about healthcare reform
Report from our nation's capitol
Consumers Union asked us to come to DC to lobby our Congressional delegation on consumer principles for health reform.  
Priorities for health reform need to include:
Creation of  a better insurance marketplace - drastically reduce the number of small variations in insurance plans so consumers have meaningful choices when selecting coverage
Improved quality; Save Lives and Money - prevent healthcare associated infections, require public report of never events, reward quality and efficiency by creating new payment systems and allow our nation's emergency rooms to adopt best practices in care delivery and emergency room design
Design a Public Plan option-an option that would compete with private health plans to improve savings and quality and service 
Put science to work:  Help doctors, patients make better decisions - create Comparative Effectiveness Reserach Trust Fund and expand existing programs to disseminate the best practices and latest research
Now it is your turn to write or call your Congressman. 
Senator Dodd
Senator Lieberman

US Representatives
John Larson
Joe Courtney

Rosa DeLauro
Jim Himes
Your financial support makes the difference, thank you
You can go to our website www.ctcps.org or send a check by mail. PO Box 231335, HArtford, cT 06123. Contributions are tax deductible 
Dear CTCPS Friend,
There is enormous energy and urgency to implement fundamental healthcare reform before the end of 2009.  There is a very small window of opportunity. Next week, I will be sending you a comprehensive list of consumer friendly legislation that was passed this year in our own state and also a list of great bills that simply disappeared and consumer concerns were lost in a very contentious legislative session that has still not addressed Connecticut's budget. 
I felt that what was happening in our nation's capitol needs to take priority this week.  We have all waited so long for reform that it is almost unbelieveable that it might finally happen.  But walk into any Congressional office and health reform is front and center.  Senator Kennedy is very ill and Senator Dodd has moved into a leadership role in the reform movement.  Senator Lieberman seems to be listening to the pharmaceutical industry and to the insurance lobby.  Congressmen Murphy, DeLauro, Himes, Courtney and Larson are pushing very hard to address the problems that you all know so well.
Keep tuned.  Call or email their offices and let them know how much you care about comprehensive reform and what you in particular want that reform to be.  Congressional contact information is listed below.
I will be sending you periodic alerts - to contact specific Congressmen on specific issues.  Please take a few minutes to call and email them after I have alerted you. - it just takes a second and your voice needs to be heard.
Infection Control Today     06/04/2009
1 in 4 Nursing Home Residents Carries MRSA
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a major problem in nursing homes with one in four residents carrying the bacteria, a study by Queen's University Belfast and AntrimAreaHospital has found.
Its authors say that the findings, which have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, highlight the need for infection control strategies to be given a higher priority in nursing homes.
The study, thought to be the largest of its kind studying MRSA in private nursing homes in the UK, took nose swabs from 1,111 residents and 553 staff in 45 nursing homes in the former Northern Board area of Northern Ireland.
Twenty-four percent of residents and 7 percent of staff were found to be colonized with MRSA, meaning they were carrying the bacteria but not necessarily showing signs of infection or illness. Residents in 42 of the homes were colonized with MRSA, with recorded rates in individual nursing homes ranging from zero to 73 percent. Staff in 28 of the homes carried the bacteria with prevalence rates ranging from zero to 28 percent.
 "We decided to carry out the study after noticing an apparent increase in recent years in the number of patients who had MRSA when they were admitted to hospital from nursing homes," said Dr. Paddy Kearney, a consultant medical microbiologist with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. "In hospitals, routine checks are carried out to identify those most at risk of MRSA colonization (carrying it on their skin and/or nose) and infection control policies are put in place but this is not always feasible in private nursing homes."
Dr. Michael Tunney, senior lecturer in clinical pharmacy, from Queen's University's School of Pharmacy, noted, "This is the first study which has reported prevalence of MRSA among staff in nursing homes in the UK and found that staff need to be more aware of the potential problem MRSA can be in this setting."
Carmel Hughes, a director of research in the School of Pharmacy, added, "In order to combat this problem, two approaches could be considered: improved education and training of staff, and removing MRSA from people who are colonized with it, using suitable creams and washes. Further studies looking at these approaches need to be carried out."
If it is happening in the UK, it is happening here.
Myths about healthcare reform
1. MYTH: Americans will lose their existing coverage. In a recent issue health brief, the Heritage Foundation charged, "the creation of a new public plan would result in millions of Americans losing their employment-based coverage." [Heritage Foundation, 12/04/2008]
REALITY: Progressive proposals strengthen the employer based system by spreading the risk and cost of insurance. An employer mandate on larger employers will encourage companies to continue providing coverage and will make the process of providing insurance more affordable by spreading the costs of insurance. A majority of large American employers would continue to provide coverage as a competitive benefit, while businesses with the fewest workers and the lowest wages would be exempt from the mandate and offered a new tax credit to purchase health insurance for their employees. [Senate Finance Committee Policy Options, 5/14/2009]
2. MYTH: The government will ration care. In his memo on health care, GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz says, "Nothing else turns people against the government takeover of healthcare than the realistic expectation that it will result in delayed and potentially even denied treatment, procedures and/or medications." [The Language of Healthcare 2009, 5/06/2009]
REALITY: Government research that compares the clinical outcomes of alternative therapies will inform doctors and patients on the most effective medical treatments and procedures. Research into the comparative effectiveness of treatments can identify the procedures that provide the best results at the lowest cost. As OMB Director Peter Orszag recently noted, the nation's healthcare spending could be reduced by more than 30 percent without compromising quality of care. [Wall Street Journal, 5/15/2009]Article Headline

We will be addressing myths and concerns in the upcoming weeks.  Vast amounts of lobbying and money will be directed at Congress and the American people to try to sway the debate and create fear about changes to our healthcare delivery.
We need to know the facts.