CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
August 2009
In This Issue
Focus on nursing home care
Conflicts of interest common in cancer research
Over the last few months, we have had many phone calls about problems in our nursing homes.  Residents have rights and we passed legislation this year strengthening those rights.  But residents and families often need immediate help in remedying serious problems of care.  Here are some resources for you and your family.  
The Ombudsman for Long Term Care
This is a wonderful resource when you have concerns about care.
For  legal questions, go to
CT Bar Association Elder Law Section - http://www.ctbar.org/article/view/86/1/43

 MYTH: A new public health plan will only drive-up health care costs and increase premiums for Americans with private insurance. Karen Ignagni, the CEO of American Health Insurance Plans recently argued that "a new public program similar to Medicare would exacerbate cost-shifting, which already adds $1,500, or 10 percent, to the average premium for a family of four." [New York Times, 12/17/2008]
REALITY: A public plan will contain costs, lower premiums, and give Americans a choice of health plans-public and private. A recent analysis of the public option by the Institute for America's Future, concluded that offering a new public insurance option to Americans who lack coverage would control health care costs and improve quality by providing an important benchmark for private insurance within a reformed health care framework. Universal coverage will reduce cost-shifting by getting everybody covered and contain costs through investment in prevention, management of chronic care, twenty-first century information technology and research on and adoption of effective treatments. [Institute for America's Future, 4/8/2009]

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Thank you for helping CTCPS work on quality of health care issues.
Dear Member,
The Sustinet Bill is now law.  It is an important health reform bill that has the potential to put Connecticut in a leadership position in fundamentally reforming the "system."   Whether it will live up to its potential, only time will tell but I thought you would be very interested in how the state will work on these issues.

The Sustinet Health Parrtnership is charged with establishing:
A medical home advisory committee that shall develop recommended internal procedures and proposed regulations governing the administration of patient-centered medical homes

An information technology advisory committee that shall formulate a plan for developing, fully interoperable electronic medical records software and hardware packages for subscribing providers.

A health care provider advisory committee that shall develop recommended clinical care and safety guidelines for use by participating health care providers.
A preventive health care advisory committee that shall use evolving medical research to draft recommendations to improve health outcomes for members
A task force to study childhood and adult obesity
A task force to study tobacco use by children and adults
A task force to study the state's health care workforce.

It has taken years to see this become law and it will be more years before we see it take effect.  But we should celebrate progress and keep our eyes on our goal - quality healthcare for all.
Conflicts of interest common in cancer research
CureToday. Com  JULY 1, 2009

Written by Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A "substantial minority" of cancer treatment studies published in major medical journals involve conflicts of interest, according to a new report in the journal Cancer.

And clinical trials with conflicts of interest were more likely to report positive survival outcomes than studies with no industry ties, lead investigator Dr. Reshma Jagsi of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and colleagues found.

Industry involvement today goes beyond drug companies simply paying for studies of their products, the researchers note; some investigators "receive consulting fees, own stock, and hold leadership positions within organizations that profit from selling the very drugs and devices that are the subject of the researchers' investigations." And many studies, they add, have shown that this kind of involvement can bias findings in industry's favor.

Jagsi and colleagues reviewed funding sources for 1534 oncology studies published in eight journals in 2006 to investigate conflicts of interest in cancer research in more detail. They defined conflict of interest as industry funding, any conflict of interest declared by the authors, or any study authors who took a job in industry when the research was done.

Twenty-nine percent of the papers had some type of conflict of interest, the researchers found, with 17 percent reporting industry funding and 12 percent having authors who were industry employees.

Such conflicts were most common in studies in which the corresponding author worked in medical oncology; 45 percent of the studies meeting this description had conflicts.
By region, conflicts of interest were seen in 33 percent of studies from North America, 27 percent of studies from Europe, 5 percent of studies done in Asia and 40 percent of studies done elsewhere.

Studies led by women were significantly less likely to receive industry funding or to have other conflicts of interest than studies led by men, the researchers found.
While 62 percent of the industry-funded studies had a "major focus" on treatment with the goal of a cure, 36 percent of non-industry-funded studies did.

The researchers also found, "most disturbingly," that industry-funded randomized trials were more likely to have positive outcomes than those that didn't receive industry funding.

They conclude: "In light of these findings, attempts to disentangle the cancer-research effort from industry ties merit further attention, and medical journals should be supported in embracing both rigorous standards of disclosure and heightened scrutiny when conflicts exist."