CT Center for Patient Safety
CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
Summer, 2013
In This Issue
Jean Rexford Named in CDC Award
Breaking the Wall of Silence
Patient and Family Advisory Councils
The Many Facets of CTCPS
Communication -...It Can Save Your Life!
CTCPS News Flash!!! 
Jean Rexford 2013

Jean Rexford,

CTCPS Executive Director


The CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases has selected the partnership between CDC, Consumers Union, Consumer Reports and a number of Patient Advocates including CTCPS's Executive Director, Jean Rexford, for their "Excellence in Partnership" Award! The award acknowledges all of the work [that has been] done together since 2009, but specifically highlights the collaborative work done in the last year.  The award summary says, "CDC, Consumers Union, and Consumer Reports are recognized for their innovative collaboration aimed at increasing awareness of healthcare-associated infections, improving healthcare transparency, and protecting patients wherever they receive their medical care." 

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Breaking the Wall of Silence Documentary 

by Citygate Films


This film is the story of people who are working together to make healthcare safer and more cost effective.  It is a portrait of several innovators, including patient advocates (many of whom we, at CTCPS have worked with), leading physicians and a major hospital system ready to challenge the status quo.  The documentary focuses on the quests of these reformers as they seek to improve patient safety in the delivery of medical care.

To err is human. But to challenge and change those errors is heroic.

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During the summer, the legislature takes their break and the pace of our activities change a bit.  But Jean Rexford and the Directors at the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety are still busy at work.  We are staying on top of the current news stories to share with you and act on when needed. We are further developing our patient safety awareness curriculum that we will be presenting at various nursing and medical schools in the coming year. We are working on our presentations on Engaging Patients: Improving Patient Safety to be shared at upcoming conferences.  But, most importantly, we are continuing to reach out and listen to what issues are important to you.Lisa Freeman


In this Newsletter, we will further share with you some of the exciting things that we are part of or that are important to the Patient Safety Community.  We hope that you will enjoy this issue.


Lisa Freeman

(Guest Editor)

Patient and Family Advisory Councils


Medical care, by the very nature of what it is, has often been somewhat patient-focused (of and about the patient) but there is now a trend in the medical community moving towards a patient-centered model of care. You may ask what the difference is - they sound the same. But the difference is very important! In patient-centered care the patient is a vital and active member of their personal care team and of all teams who make decisions regarding things that affect patients.


To bring patient-centered care to all aspects of medical care, many facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, and even group practices are starting PFAC's or Patient and Family Advisory Councils made up of members from the patient community. These councils vary from location to location, but their input is being sought for everything from capital improvement projects including the design of patient rooms, to how doctor visits are structured and whether a patient's blood pressure should be measured before the doctor comes into the room (a more stressful time) or after (when the patient is somewhat more relaxed).


According to Dr. Peter Pronovost, a highly regarded physician and patient safety champion at Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the most important things that patients who want to effect change and bring about a higher level of patient safety can do is to pressure their elected officials to enact policy changes requiring that there are patient and family councils at every hospital and health care facility. He also suggests that, as patients, we approach our local hospitals and health care facilities and ask if they have patient and family councils and how, as patients, we can be involved in either starting or joining them. This is one important way to let our voices, your voices, be heard.


  The Many Facets of CTCPS


I want to take a moment of your time to remind you of the many different ways that CTCPS is reaching out into our communities, to our members and to the healthcare community at large to improve the quality of health care by promoting patient safety and protecting the rights of patients.  Our Facebook page is very active and calls your attention to issues of the day.  We encourage you to "friend" us and to "share" our posts with friends and to add your "comments" to create a dialog. 


The Health Care Blog on our website features stories that we feel many of you will be interested in.  We hope that it adds to your awareness of patient safety issues and progress.


Our Resources and Campaigns Page on the Website are regularly updated, as well.  As we learn of reliable and non-biased sites and stories that you can use as references, we post them.  We always welcome comments, additions and your thoughts on our Contact Us page.


Communication - 

It Can Save Your Life!


Communication (from Latin communicare, meaning "to share") the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or ideas, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or a group of persons.


It has been said that Communication breakdowns are a leading cause of medical error. Given that, we want to share with you some helpful tools to improve your communication with your medical providers.


Our friends at Consumer Reports and the Choosing Wisely campaign, put together this short video with advice about how to make the most productive use of a few minutes with your doctor. It includes 5 questions that will help you avoid unnecessary tests and treatments. For more information, visit ConsumerHealthChoices.org


Our fellow advocates at the National Patient Safety Foundation created this video promoting their "Ask Me 3" education program designed to promote communication between health care providers and patients in order to improve health outcomes. The video shows a patient and his daughter using the Ask Me 3 program, asking the three questions, and getting the answers needed to help better understand his condition and next steps.


Finally, do you suffer from White Coat Silence? That's a new term for a common affliction: reluctance to ask doctors questions. Maybe you feel that your questions aren't relevant or that they are not the best use of the doctor's time. Sometimes, your doctor might feel the same thing. Doctors are realizing this, and they are realizing that there needs to be more talk about talking - about effectively communicating WITH their patients. The barriers on both sides of the discussion must be broken down. As one piece discussed recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association says, "Encouraging patients to ask questions is a start but needs to be part of a more fundamental reengineering of health care toward a patient-centered experience in which white coats provoke more open dialogue and less apprehensive silence."


So we, at CTCPS continue to encourage you to be involved in your care, to share what you learn from our Website, our Facebook page and elsewhere with those friends and family and other loved ones who are important to you. Be sure that your care team includes you and your chosen representative(s) and take the time to COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY in all matters that affect your care.


And so, this brings us full circle back to our first article in this newsletter that discusses the importance of patient-centered care.