CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
October 2011

Costs shift to workers as health insurance expenses rise

By Arielle Levin Becker

The cost of employer-sponsored health insurance has grown more than four times faster than inflation since 2001, and the costs borne by workers have risen at an even faster pace as companies increasingly shift health care expenses to their employees.


Read the full story and report back what increases you are seeing.

Costs shift to workers as health insurance expenses rise

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Federal Government steps up demand for more comprehensive  and more transparent infection reporting:


At a recent meeting in Dallas, Health and Human Services brought together the state stakeholders who are dealing with infection control.  There were ten consumers from across the country who were asked to attend and we were one of them.  We know that public reporting changes behavior.   Across the country there has been a dramatic drop in central line infections in the ICU. Connecticut hospitals - focusing on  decreasing these very serious infections - have also seen marked improvement.  Beginning in January, hospitals will be reporting on surgical site infections that affect many more people.  With 65% percent of surgeries now taking place in ambulatory surgical centers, infection control needs to be comprehensive and not selective.




Health Insurers Deny Up To A Third Of State Applicants

by Colleen Shaddox | Sep 21, 2011

Some Connecticut health insurers deny up to a third of the people who apply for individual coverage, an analysis of federal data shows.

Insurers who have the highest rate of denials are Anthem

at 15 to 33 percent and Celtic Insurance Company, 31 to 33 percent, according to the data provided by insurers.

In more than 100 plans sold in Connecticut, denial rates range from 12 to 33 percent. In some states, denial rates vary by region, but not in Connecticut. The denial rates were identical in cities and towns.

A recent Government Accountability Office report said that nationally 19 percent of individuals who apply for health insurance are turned down. The GAO report did not breakdown denials in Connecticut.


Are you one of those who have been denied coverage? We want to hear from you.





Dear Members,


There is a light at the end of this tunnel - but it will require all of us to keep the pressure on decision makers.  I am always struck by the power of the health industry lobbies and how those industries have permeated every aspect of providing services. 


As a consumer, I was recently asked to an APIC (Association of Professionals in Infection Control) meeting designed to develop a strategic plan for the organization.  I was the only consumer - so the issues we support, public reporting, transparency, and urgent action were not voiced.  The voices that were heard were the voices of their "strategic partners".  These strategic partners - and there were more of them than APIC members - turned out to be the corporations and businesses who deal with infections and infection control.  In other words, as they were voting on the strategic plan, I would bet the Brooklyn Bridge that their votes were  cast with their bottom lines, and not us, foremost in their minds.


Why do I see a light?  At least we were at the table and I could raise my hand and ask how the voting would have turned out if all those hands raised represented consumer interests and not business interests.




Medical Errors Among Lapses Cited By Medical Board

by Lisa Chedekel | Sep 23, 2011


 Two physicians, in Norwich and New Haven, have been reprimanded by the state Medical Examining Board for improper conduct connected to errors made during surgeries, while a third physician who had escaped Connecticut sanctions for out-of-state sexual misconduct also has been disciplined.

The board, acting on a recommendation from the state Department of Public Health, reprimanded Dr. Gregory Criscuolo of Norwich in connection with a flawed spinal surgery at William W. Backus Hospital in January 2008. During a procedure intended to alleviate an impinged nerve in a patient's spine, Criscuolo removed the wrong lamina, part of the vertebra. After realizing his mistake, he operated on the correct site.

The hospital had alerted the state DPH to the error.

In another decision, the medical board reprimanded Dr. John Bonadies of Hamden for improperly using a tacking device during a diaphragmatic hernia surgery at the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven in 2008. In that case, the tip of the tack ended up lacerating the patient's coronary artery. Bonadies had given a presentation to other surgeons about the dangers of using tacks in the pericardial space, the DPH consent order notes.

In a different type of action, the state board imposed a license reprimand on Dr. Laurent Brard of Massachusetts, based on prior disciplinary action taken against him in Rhode Island, where he had practiced in 2008.Brard, an ob-gyn, was sanctioned by the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline in 2008 for engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient. Last year, Massachusetts picked up on the Rhode Island charges and indefinitely suspended Brard's license.

But in Connecticut, Brard has held an unrestricted license. His case was mentioned in a C-HIT story in December that highlighted Connecticut's failure to impose reciprocal discipline on doctors punished in neighboring states. Since that story, the state has changed its policy on imposing discipline against doctors who are sanctioned in other states.

In addition to reprimanding Brard, who is now affiliated with the School of Medicine at Southern Illinois University, the DPH also imposed conditions that he would have to meet before resuming the practice of medicine in Connecticut.

The state medical board also revoked the license of a psychiatrist who reportedly overmedicated 10 drug-addicted patients in 2009, finding that he posed "a serious threat in his practice of medicine to the health and safety of his patients."

DPH investigators reported that Gerson Sternstein of Berlin had routinely prescribed excessive doses of opiates, tranquilizers and other narcotics in dangerous combinations. The department found that while some of Sternstein's patients were on Medicaid insurance, they would "pay cash in the thousands of dollars for name brand prescriptions, a red flag for possible diversion of drugs." Sternstein was fined $50,000.

The state had suspended Sternstein's license last year, prior to the revocation. The Department of Consumer Protection identified Sternstein as the No. 1 prescriber of controlled drug prescriptions in Connecticut from July 2008 to August 2009.