CT Center for Patient Safety
CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter

July 2014
In This Issue
The Cleveland Clinic...and the power of one determined advocate
The Connecticut Partnership for Patient Safety
What About Cost and Quality
Healthcare Billing - does anyone understand it?
The Cleveland Clinic
... and the power of one determined advocate

Air Force Colonel David Antoon made a complaint about the Cleveland Clinic.  The Vietnam vet accused the hospital of failing to investigate his charge that someone other than his authorized surgeon had performed his prostrate cancer surgery.  During that surgery he was severely injured.

For nearly four years, nothing happened.  Hospital officials refused to show the CMS inspectors the notes from the surgery and the surgeon refused to talk to them.

Nothing was being done. Journalist Joe Carlson's recently published article Cleveland Clinic cases highlight safety oversight flaws. has changed that.  As an Air Force pilot, Antoon understood that in aviation safety complaints get investigated.  But in healthcare, there is the Wall of Silence  that Rosemary Gibson wrote about.

CMS began to threaten sanctions unless the hospital was more forthcoming.  A three month Modern Healthcare analysis of federal inspection reports reveals that the Cleveland Clinic was on the termination track - dozens of inspections confirmed serious patient safety deficiencies - more and more complaints had been filed with CMS.

Unlike nursing homes, CMS does not have the ability to fine hospitals.  That needs to change! Money is clearly an incentive to improve performance. The public expects that the regulatory agencies are performing in a manner that will protect them.  Right now, they are not.  Far greater transparency is needed.

Three cheers for Colonel Antoon.  This is a wonderful reminder that one individual can make a difference. 

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Dear Members,

Very exciting news for all residents of our state.


The Connecticut Partnership for Patient Safety Forms Board


North Haven, Conn. (June 20, 2014) - The Connecticut Partnership for Patient Safety (CPPS) recently marked a major advancement by formally launching a Connecticut public-private partnership, creating its board and ratifying its bylaws.  Started informally five years ago as a group of concerned executives representing a wide range of extensive healthcare experience and leadership, CPPS has since grown to 18 individuals representing healthcare providers, consumers, insurers, advocacy, professional, research, state health, and quality improvement organizations. 

"CPPS is the realization of a concept long overdue," said President-elect Judith Kunisch, faculty member at the Yale School of Nursing and a member of the original organizing group. "The group's mission is to create a culture of patient safety across the healthcare continuum through a statewide collaboration that provides education and consultation.  We want to celebrate successes and shine a light on best practices across our state to encourage dramatic improvements sorely needed in protecting patients."

Taking lessons learned from the Massachusetts Coalition's successful patient safety model and commissioning studies from Quinnipiac University's School of Business/Department of Healthcare Management, CPPS is creating a solid foundation for growth.  "This group is different from others in that it is laser focused on patient protection and patient safety," said CPPS Interim President Tim Elwell, president and CEO of Qualidigm. "Using a non-punitive approach that shines a light on what works, CPPS aggressively supports the creation of a culture of trust that encourages transparency and honesty.  The group hopes to attract all healthcare stakeholders, including patients, to reduce patient harm caused by the State's healthcare delivery system, " said Elwell.  CPPS will concentrate on the continuum of care for all individuals seeking healthcare in Connecticut; collaborating with and enhancing the many patient safety/quality improvement initiatives already underway.


Initially sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society with additional funding from individual and member groups, CPPS is now transitioning to a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation to attract both grants and corporate donors to  build its organization.


The board members, representing experience from a wide variety of healthcare organizations, are as follows:







Yale University

Judith Kunisch, R.N.


Tim Elwell

CT Hospital Association

Mary Cooper, M.D.

ProHealth Physicians

John Lynch

Long-Term Care/Not-for-Profit

Al Goldberg

Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield

Dr. Peter Bowers

Alternity Healthcare LLC

Dr. Desmond Ebanks

Quinnipiac University/School of Medicine

Dr. Linda Ellis

Business Council of Fairfield County

Joseph McGee

CT Association of Healthcare Executives

Angela Mattie


Dr. Russell J. Munson

CT Center for Patient Safety

Jean Rexford

Community Health Center Association

Lori-Anne Russo

Board, CT Health Insurance Exchange

Dr. Robert Scalettar

Hospital of Central CT - retired CEO

Clarence Silvia

UConn School of Pharmacy

Dr. Marie Smith

CT Nursing Collaborative-Action Coalition

Linda Berger Spivack, R.N.

CT Health Care Advocate

Valerie Wyzykowski, R.N.

Working together, across the continuum of care - a new and very exciting initiaitve.



What about Cost and Quality?


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has reported a big increase in the number of hip, knee and spinal surgeries.  In 2011, musculoskeletal procedures accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. operating room procedures. Among these, knee replacement showed the largest growth in volume from 2001 to 2011, with a 93 percent increase to 718,500 total procedures. There was a 70 percent growth in spinal fusion during this same period. 

Clearly an aging population is being urged to go under the knife!  But if you ask the surgeon for an estimate of the cost of care, most likely you will not get it.  Most often, even your surgeon doesn't know.  Due to a lack of transparency, you also will not be able to find the doctor whose methodologies show the best and most consistent outcomes.  We deserve better.  CTCPS is working to bring greater transparency to medical care.  Follow our activities through our newsletter, Facebook page and our Website.


Healthcare Billing - does anyone understand it? 



We finally found a resource that might be helpful to you:  Understanding Healthcare Prices: A Consumer Guide

Written by the Healthcare Financial Management Association, this guide explains billing questions ranging from a visit to the ER to surgery to your regular office visit. Download and keep it as a reference. 



 This guide can help you if:

  • You want to know where to get answers to your questions about healthcare prices
  • You would like to compare prices for a particular service among providers
  • You want to better understand, plan, and manage your out-of-pocket healthcare costs
  • You are covered by a high-deductible health plan