CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
April 2012

Report from the Legislative Office Building


Brenda Shipley, a CTCPS Board member has the honor of being the CTCPS supporter who waited the longest to testify.  On Friday, March 16th, Brenda arrived at 10 am .....and did not testify until after 7 pm.  Dedication and determination are required.  This year our focus is on changes to the Certificate of Merit that would expand the definition of an expert witness, legislation requiring nursing homes and home health agencies to carry liability insurance, a regulation that would require all doctors, nurses and dentists to renew their licenses on line.  We are opposing a bill that would exempt emergency room physicians from liability.


What is most puzzling to me is that despite statistics and well documented studies, physicians still use the same arguments that they were using ten years ago when we began our patient safety work. They say that doctors are leaving the state: that there is a crisis from frivolous law suits - despite the fact that the number of law suits  has decreased. A new argument is that they are forced to practice defensive medicine because they are so afraid of being sued. Apparently their fear trumps the patients right to safe and appropriate care.


This is a short legislative session and it will be over in six weeks. We hope to have good news for you.

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Healthcare Fraud

Perhaps help is on the way.  Many of you have informed us of instances of billing for services that were not provided.  In 2011 the federal government recovered $4.1 billion in fraudulent healthcare payments, the largest amount ever collected in a single year.  The Feds have ramped up fraud-fighting efforts and that has led to a 50% increase in judgements and settlements of payments fraudulently obtrained from Medicare and Medicaid.  As important, there has been a marked increase in criminal charges filed.  There were 1,230 defendants for healthcare fraud related crimes.  And a total of 743 defendeants were covicted.  There's a new team with a wonderful name, Heat (Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Team).  They use data analysis to identify high billing levels in healthcare fraud hot spots. Those hot spots are not in Connecticut but seem to be located in Los Angeles, Houston, Baton Rouge, Tampa and Miami.  While I know it is frustrating for you when you call to complain, I am encouraged that the Federal government has begun to take action.



Dear Members,


One of our long time members, Carol Roberts, called the other day. Carol's family, both her son and her daughter experienced tragic harm while thinking they were getting "healthcare." Now Carol's husband has just found out that he has bladder cancer. He had been prescribed Actos for his diabetes. 


Carol, has learned that France and Germany have already banned this drug and when Carol questioned why CVS was still filling prescriptions, she was told that as long as the FDA has not pulled the drug, they are required by law to fill the scripts.


The medical device industry is, if possible, worse than the pharmaceutical industry.  Johnson & Johnson is now selling their metal on metal hips in Europe.  These are the hips that have caused extensive harm  - some individuals have had five surgeries to try to correct the problem - in patients in the United States.


When will the needs of the patient come first?  



 Helen Haskell, mother of Lewis Blackman who died of very preventable errors, led a day of patient safety at St. Francis Hospital on April 7, 2012.  Dr. Scott Ellner and Cyndy Ross showed leadership in opening the doors to the public and a discussion of patient empowerment.  Please visit our website, www.ctcps.org and learn more.  Helen's organization is listed on our resources page.


We hope to expand our efforts in 2013 - working with hospitals to assure safer care.

Outreach to Nursing Students
Last week we concluded the  first year of our program designed to reach providers.  The response has been very exciting and we want this program to grow.  Our goal for next year is to present at every nursing school in the state and begin to reach out to risk managers.

Our team has been led by Susan Manganello.  John Torello provided an amazing video of the impact of medical error on his family.   Gus Velez has a six minute video of his own story.  These stories, these very real and tragic details of preventable harm, give meaning to the statistics.  Nurses share their own experiences.  One of the biggest problems nurses face is when the hospital or the doctor's office does not work as a team  They have often tried to speak up but have run into a hierarchy that will not listen. 

Our message:  You cannot heal everyone but you can harm everyone.
We have a volunteer who has begun to organize outreach to civic organizations such as the Rotary.  Please share your connections with us.



Save the Date: 



 June 12, Westhersfield, CT

 9 am. 


Getting the Right Care:  No More, No Less


 Wethersfield Community Center



Nationally known speakers Rosemary Gibson and Dr. Steve Smith will address dangerous overuse and appropriate care.  More information will follow in our next newsletter - but definitely save the date.






Are you interested in joining us in working together on addressing nursing home and home health agency quality of care issues.


Please call.  I recently met someone whose mother died of bedsores and malnutrition.  We must do something.  The small fines that are charged by the Department of Public Health would seem to be the cost of doing business.

The more we grow - and we added over thirty new members last month, the more important it is to show solidarity and support.  Please contact us through our website, www.ctcps.org and order our wrist band.  For $10 you will be supporting the organization and raising public awareness.  Thanks.