This site was created to provide information to patients or potential patients who are concerned about the quality of health care they receive in this country. We have no affiliation with any physicians or hospitals; we are patients looking after each other in a health care system that could easily harm us. There are three levels on which you can begin to protect yourself: 1) be a wise consumer of healthcare – demand quality, cost-effective care for yourself and those you love, 2) participate in patient safety leadership through boards, panels and commissions that implement policy and laws, and 3) sponsor and work for laws that favor safer care, transparency and accountability. The ultimate goal of Patient Safety America is a national, enforced patient bill of rights not too different from the rights workers have to protect them from unsafe working conditions or minorities have to protect them from exploitation by the majority. The bill of rights is posted in “legislative goals.”
In September 2013 I published a paper in The Journal of Patient Safety in which I estimated, based on data published from 2008-2011, that 440,000 Americans each year experience a preventable adverse event while hospitalized that contributes to their death (A_New,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2). Your safety while a patient is not guaranteed.
Books to Assist You in Being a Capable Patient or Patient Advocate
The Take-Charge Patient, Martine Ehrenclou (2012)
The Empowered Patient, Julia A. Hallisy (2008)
Guides to Selecting a Quality Doctor, Hospital, or Nursing Home Care
Physician Compare (Medicare): https://www.medicare.gov/physiciancompare/
Hospital Compare by Leapfrog Group: www.hospitalsafetyscore.org
Hospital Compare: www.consumerreports.org/health/doctors-hospitals/hospital-ratings.htm
US News Rankings: https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings
Medicare Hospital Rankings: www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html
Harris County Hospital Ratings by doctors (2017): https://www.hcms.org/2017_Hospital_Survey/
Nursing Home Compare (Medicare):
Why You Must Become Involved: The Truth About American Healthcare
U.S Healthcare can be dangerous: In 2010 the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that the number of Medicare patients that die from adverse events during hospitalization was 180,000 per year. Allowing for various factors such as the cause of adverse events, the total number of Americans hospitalized each year, the clear evidence of omission of evidence of medical errors from medical records and the fact that diagnostic errors could not be detected by the methods used by the OIG, the total number of Americans dying prematurely from medical errors was about 400,000 per year. This does not include deaths from medical errors involving out patients. A study published in the New England Journal found that patient safety did not improve from January 2002 through December 2007 despite concerted efforts in North Carolina where the study was conducted using records from hospitals representative of the entire U.S.
U.S. Healthcare is less effective: The infant mortality in the first year of life in the U.S. is the highest of developed countries, being ranked 42nd in the world by the World Health Organization. Our infant mortality is so much higher than Japan’s and the Scandinavian countries that each year 16,000 babies die in the U.S. that would not die if they were born in these other developed countries. Our life expectancy is ranked below 40th by all organizations that do rankings, and it is not improving as fast as life expectancy in other developed countries.
U.S. Healthcare is very expensive: On a per capita basis, healthcare in the U.S. is twice as expensive as healthcare in any other developed country. Hospital, doctor, and drug fees are much higher in the U.S. than in other developed countries. For example, heart bypass surgery that costs $50,800 in the U.S. costs only $19,200 in The Netherlands. A hip replacement in the U.S. costs $34,500, whereas in France the cost is only $12,600. A supply of Lipitor that costs $130 in the U.S. costs only $39 in the U.K.
U.S. Healthcare is often Unethical: Studies have shown that only a small fraction of the time is the patient given enough information to make informed choices about her healthcare, which often involves expensive and invasive procedures. CT Scans are increasing at an alarming rate and patients are seldom informed that they run a higher risk of getting cancer because of each scan. Medical records are often missing information pointing to medical errors and have been found to be of poor quality in most hospitals studied. Older patients are often prescribed drugs that are dangerous to their health. One in six hospital admissions through the ER is due to inappropriately prescribed medications. Studies have shown that seniors are heavily over medicated.
Brief Guide to How to Deal with Medical Error
In Texas and many other states, tort reform has made seeking monetary damages for malpractice and wrongful death nearly impossible. There are ways you can report medical errors, but what you must do is report the error to your medical board and then to your U.S. legislators. When you write them make it clear you want a Patient Bill of Rights like the one proposed in my book “A Sea of Broken Hearts.” Tell them you are fed up with a super-expensive healthcare non-system that delivers third-rate care. Make it clear that unless they act, they will not receive your vote in the next election.
- In Texas, report medical errors to the Texas Medical Board.
- Copy your complaint to the Office of the Governor of Texas.
- To the Texas House Public Health Committee http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/list81/410.htm
- In the USA, you can complain about a hospital to The Joint Commission.
- Other actions
- In the USA, check out a hospital at The Joint Commission.
- Report adverse drug reactions to the Food and Drug Administration.