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CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
June 2012

Americans' Perceptions of the Costs and Quality of Medical Care


Robert Wood Johnson released a new poll: 

This poll was conducted in order to examine sick Americans' experiences with and perceptions of the costs and quality of medical care over the last year. "Sick" Americans (27% of adults) are defined as those who said they had a serious illness, medical condition, injury, or disability requiring a lot of medical care or those who had been hospitalized overnight in the past 12 months. Despite the fact that most sick Americans surveyed have health insurance, the financial costs of health care are a serious financial problem for many sick Americans and their families today. Some sick Americans report having been turned away from getting medical care due to financial or insurance reasons. Additionally, some sick Americans say they did not get needed medical care because they could not afford it.


Despite high health care expenditures in the United States, many sick Americans report quality problems including  instances when they believe the wrong care was provided to them or when they were concerned about some aspects of the medical care provided to them. Some Americans who have been hospitalized overnight in the past 12 months also say they have experienced several quality of care problems, including getting an infection while in the hospital, getting the wrong diagnoses, treatment, or test, and not being able to see a nurse when needed.

The poll also looked at the views sick people had about the seriousness of health care quality and cost problems nationally. Rising costs of care are seen as a serious problem for the country by most sick Americans. Sick Americans see the following as top reasons for the rising costs of health care: excessive charges, people not taking care of themselves, and fraud and abuse by medical providers. Despite concerns of high health care costs, a majority of sick Americans think they get a good value for what they pay for their health care.


About two-thirds of sick Americans think there is a serious problem with the quality of the nation's health care. However, their concern over the quality of care in the nation is lower than their concern for the high cost of care in the nation. Sick Americans see a wide range of issues that contribute to quality problems across the nation. These include problems related to insurance plan restrictions, lack of availability of quality services, and concerns about some aspects of the way care is provided. A majority of sick Americans want their encounters with their physicians to involve discussions about broader health issues than just their specific medical problem. 




Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health found that:



  • 45% of sick people in this country see the quality of healthcare is a very serious problem 

  • 73% of sick people in this country see the cost of healthcare to be a very serious problem 

  • 11% reported getting the wrong test, diagnosis or treatment
  • 8% reported getting an infection in the hospital

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Dear Members,

When the FDA reached out and invited consumers and patient representatives to spend a day at their National Headquarters in Silver Springs, Maryland to explore ways to more effectively include patient input in regulatory decision making on drugs, medical devices and biological products, I immediately signed up.  The membership of CT Center for Patient Safety have made me keenly aware of the harm inappropriate prescribing can do, the danger of over-treatment with antipsychotics and the snail paced effort to inform doctors and hospitals of new black box warnings when approved drugs begin to show harmful and unanticipated side effects.   I could not have been more enthusiastic.  Finally, I thought, they understand that their drug and medical device oversight is important to patients!


Thank heaven a representative from Consumers Union and I showed up.  The room was filled with staffers of disease groups - such as the MS Society, AIDS groups, Alzheimer groups  and so many more.  I have nothing against these groups that advocate but I do have a problem with the fact that they are largely funded by the pharmaceutical companies and often push access to drugs.  If the FDA thought they were getting unbiased and non-financially conflicted input, they were wrong.  And what was a rep from Glaxo SmithKline doing there?


Filling in the evaluation was fun.  I volunteered all of us to be the non-conflicted patients they really do need to hear from.  The last thing they need is more industry input!



Choosing Wisely


The ABIM Foundation is dedicated to  Advancing Medical Professionalism to Improve Health Care.  With Consumers Union, a long time all ally of the CT Center for Patient Safety, they have begun a very important initiative that will help all health care consumers get the appropriate care at the right time.


As the nation increasingly focuses on ways to provide safer, higher quality care to patients, the overuse of healthcare resources is an issue of concern.  Experts agree that there is too much waste - some believing that 30% of delivered care is unnecessary and may not improve health.  Indeed, some of the care could be harmful.


The ABIM Foundation, working with physicians and patients has begun to identify lists of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question."  


Please visit their website, www.abimfoundation.org, to get further information about those lists.  Currently there are nine specialty societies that have released their findings with more to come.   You can also go directly to www.Choosingwisely.org.


We all know the work that Consumers Reports has done for consumers.  Their Safe Patient Project is yet another example of consumer needs driving their areas of interest and research. 



Getting the Right Health Care: 

 No More No Less

 Tuesday June 12, 2012

 9 am


Wethersfield Community Center

30 Greenfield Street

Wethersfield, CT 06109


Keynote speakers:


Dr. Stephen Smith, Professor Emeritus at the Warren Alpert Medical School at
Brown University and principal investigator promoting good stewardship and primary care.


Rosemary Gibson, nationally recognized author of the Treatment Trap, White Wall of Silence, and the Battle Over Health Care.


for reservations RSVP to Ned Skinnon

(810) 561-7582 or [email protected]

Patient Safety for All Bracelet

Join our movement - with this bracelet.

For just $10 you will be providing financial support and wearing a symbol expressing our sense of urgency to improve health outcomes. 

 contact [email protected]