CT Center for Patient Safety
CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter

April 2015
In This Issue

Hospital Rating Scales

There are now a number of hospital rating systems and they don't necessarily agree with each other.  How do you know which one should guide your decision?  According to an article in Modern Healthcare, this is a tough question.  The disagreement between the different rating systems is extreme.  The rating sites often focus on different factors so it becomes difficult to find a consensus.  Each rating site may look at specific factors and apply differing methodologies and often they don't choose the same factors to evaluate.  So what does the healthcare consumer do?  We would suggest that you should think about what factors are important to you and then find the rating systems that looks at those concerns to help support your decision.  Using more than one system will allow you to view different perspectives and may give you a more comprehensive view.  

April is National

Minority Health Month

This month the Office of Minority Health (OMH) is focusing on raising public awareness about health and health care disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities and efforts to advance health equity.  The Connecticut Department of Public Health has recently launched the Office of Health Equity replacing the former DPH Office of Multicultural Health which was established in 1998, and focused on addressing racial and ethnic disparities.  According to Governor Dannel Malloy, "This office emphasizes the principle of health as a human right and social good for all people.  It reflects the ongoing commitment of this administration to advance the principles of health equity and allow all Connecticut residents to be as healthy as they can be."

The lighter side of Healthcare



Sometimes, getting to the cure has unintended consequences.

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Dear Members,

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought as to what it will take to make health care more accessible for all of the residents of Connecticut.  We have some great physicians and we have some great hospitals, but we have some problems too.  Folks are still having problems getting the healthcare that they need.  


Many people, and not just those with insurance for the first time, do not really understand what services their insurance covers.  Many residents don't really know what all those terms like "coinsurance" or "maximum out of pocket" or "balance billing" mean.  People don't understand that when your get services from an out-of-network provider, even if those services are at an in-network hospital or other facility, you may find that you are billed at the higher out-of-network rate.  These are just a few examples of the problems that residents are running in to.  We are working with others in the state to make the language of insurance and access to healthcare more easily understood.


In addition, to help patients become more activated and engaged in their care, we are continuing to push for legislation requiring greater transparency of prices and quality.  Currently there are several bills related to patient safety issues that are being considered in the CT legislature. We are encouraged to see a bipartisan effort to move these along.


The landscape of healthcare is changing and understanding what one is "buying" has become quite challenging, even for those of us who think we have a good idea of what is going on.  


I would love to hear from our members - YOU - with stories that you wish to share about your experiences getting healthcare .  What went well and what went not-so-well for you?  What was different and how did you feel about it?  Did you experience "surprise" billing at a physician, outpatient center or hospital?  Your stories guide us and empower us to bring about change.


Lisa Freeman

Patient Safety Roundtable


 On Monday, March 30th Senators Blumenthal and Murphy held a Roundtable discussion on Patient Safety.  It focused on the recent CT Department of Public Health report on adverse events which showed that the number of adverse events in 2013 increased significantly over the prior year.  "Teaching patients and the universe of medical personnel to feel comfortable questioning authority would go a long way toward reducing hospital and nursing home errors."  This was one of the suggestions offered at the hearing which included Jean Rexford on the far left representing the patient perspective.  Senator Blumenthal and others made the point that to reduce hospital acquired infections, "it is as important to educate the public, such as asking your doctor simple things, like did he or she wash their hands between seeing patients."  You can read the story at the New Haven Register.

Credit Jordin Isip

If Patients Only Knew How Often Treatments Could Harm Them 


Most patients overestimate the benefits of medical treatments, and underestimate the harms.  An article recently published in the New York Times discusses a number of studies that support this.  Patients are constantly hearing ads recommending treatments which they are urged to ask their doctors about. Sometimes, conditions appear to have actually been created in order for a new drug to be promoted.  Social Anxiety Disorder, which was once called shyness is an example of this.  According to CNN, "In order to convince shy people they had social anxiety disorder, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil, hired a PR firm who put together a public awareness campaign called "Imagine being allergic to people," which they said was sponsored by a group called the "Social Anxiety Disorders Coalition."  Where this disorder was found in the literature only about 50 times prior, during this campaign, it was referenced over a billion times!  Paxil has a black box warning due to the fact that it can increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors.  As a treatment for shyness, we would hope that patients are told of the risks.  How many patients have taken this and other medications not knowing all of the risks versus the benefits?

Do You Really Need to Stick Me?

Wade Iams (l) and Josh Heck (r) participate in Vanderbilt's Choosing Wisely competition.


At Vanderbilt University Medical Center and other hospitals too, they have had an "AhHa!" moment and have realized that it is not really necessary to do that 5:00 am blood draw routinely every morning to every patient in the hospital.  In what started out as a friendly competition, conversations and real culture change are now taking place. Also, as a result of this initiative, Vanderbilt has seen:
  • 308 unnecessary labs eliminated
  • 77 misleading lab results avoided
  • $38,222.78 saved by patients
  • 1,541 ml of blood not drawn
Imagine how many more happy patients there are - not having that extra stick and getting to sleep a little bit later!