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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Patient Advocate in the First Family?

We probably have the most unusual field of potential first families ever. A potential candidate, Fred Thompson, just announced he is in remission from lymphoma. Both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are cancer survivors. Joseph Biden suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm. Four potential first spouses have or have had serious medical conditions -- Cindy McCain had a stroke (as well as an addiction to drugs), Bill Clinton had bypass surgery, Ann Romney has multiple sclerosis, and Elizabeth Edwards has cancer.

These diseases give family members much painfully learned experience as patient advocates. It is likely that the next President and First Lady or First Man will know, first-hand, of the needs of patient advocates. And the personal health of at least one of them is likely to become an issue during the campaign.

If a candidate has a prepared position on patient safety when that person’s health crisis hits the media, the candidate can express genuine sympathy for their adversary’s situation, along with a thoughtful, cost-effective solution to an issue that both will last through many news cycles and affect millions of voters. Who knows? Long a motherhood and apple pie issue, patient safety legislation might become a reality in the next Administration.

Advice for patient advocates: Tell the issues experts in the presidential campaigns that they should prepare position papers now that show their candidates favor patient safety legislation.

Read another of our legislative stories, or blogger Sherry Greenberg’s source story.

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