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Thursday, December 3, 2009

There can be a big payback: Testimony on Massachusetts state funding for patient safety

This was my testimony today on state funding:

Secretary Bigby, Commissioner Auerbach, and other executives,

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

I'm Ken Farbstein, President of the Consumer Health Quality Council of Health Care for All. We'll submit more formal written testimony to add to this personal oral testimony.

Our Council is mostly people who had a serious medical error in their own family. At our last meeting, my friend Kim came and told us about his mother's death from a hospital acquired infection. (I'm glad the DPH is reporting those, as that can persuade hospitals to become safer.) And we heard from another man, Lee, whose girlfriend died needlessly in a hospital. If the Rapid Response Methods section of the law had been in place then, and if he knew about it, she might well be alive today. (I'm glad that DPH can collect information about hospitals' use of Rapid Response Methods.) One of our long-time members didn't come to our last meeting, because her new leg prosthesis was still uncomfortable. She needed one after more than 20 operations following a very serious hospital-acquired infection.

Yesterday a work group of our Council reviewed the hospitals' plans for their Patient and Family Advisory Councils, required by Chapter 305. We were happy to learn that consumers on one hospital's advisory council got the hospital to extend visiting hours to 7x24, so family members can be with their loved ones when they're most vulnerable and afraid. If all hospitals plan and conduct these advisory councils, a lot more good ideas like that will become reality. If DPH can help make those ideas known – IF they have money for someone to look, and discover them, so much the better.

I firmly believe that reporting errors keeps providers more mindful of the need to make their systems safer. It doesn't take much of DPH's time to gather and report that, and there can be a big payback. Of course, DPH needs the funding to keep doing that. I hope you give them, and the Betsy Lehman Center, what they need.

Advice: It's a citizen's job to keep his mouth open.

Read another story about Chapter 305 testimony.

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