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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dear Mr. President-Elect: Patient Safety Legislation

President-Elect Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20500-0001

Dear Mr. President-Elect,

The Consumer Health Quality Council is a unique grassroots organization. The Council consists of individual consumers who have experienced poor quality care, either directly or through loved ones, and who are motivated by their experiences to advocate for better quality care for all residents of Massachusetts.

The Council would like to advocate for certain provisions that we strongly hope to see in the new administration’s healthcare agenda. These provisions became state law in Massachusetts after we advocated for healthcare quality improvement legislation during the most recent session of the Massachusetts legislature. We chose the following areas of focus based on our experiences: reducing the rates of healthcare-associated infections and other serious preventable errors, promoting consumer empowerment, and improving patient and provider partnerships and communication. The following provisions are now law in Massachusetts:

1. Hospitals will no longer be reimbursed for care associated with serious preventable errors;
2. Hospitals are required to establish rapid response methods to allow for immediate assistance if a patient is deteriorating;
3. Hospitals must set up patient and family advisory councils; and
4. The Department of Public Health will publicly report hospital-specific rates of healthcare-associated infections and serious reportable events.

We are hopeful that quality improvement and cost containment and others will not only improve care for all residents of Massachusetts but will help to make healthcare reform a success. You can read the specific language for these provisions in the corresponding Sections 51H, 53E, and 53F of Chapter 305 of the Massachusetts General Laws here.

We urge you to emphasize the importance of access to high-quality healthcare for all Americans. Attached to this letter are several stories we have written on how medical errors have affected us, our families and caregivers, and our communities. These stories communicate the very real threat of errors happening in anyone regardless of income level, race, or educational level. We share these stories in the hope that they lead to changes in the healthcare system so that what happened to us will not happen to someone else.

Please let us know if we can provide any assistance. If you have any questions or would like any information from us, please contact Deborah Wachenheim, Health Quality Manager at Health Care For All (617-275-2902), or Ken Farbstein, President of the Consumer Health Quality Council (781-444-5525).

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