Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Patient Safety: It's Nobody's Responsibility

Most recently I met with Nassau County Presiding Officer Judith Jacobs to ask about Nassau County funding programs to educate patients and families about patient safety so they can understand the complexities of healthcare and learn about patient safety. Guess what she said – there is no funding available. This is hard to believe when Newsday reports that part time politically appointed board members are given full health benefits. The presiding officers of both Suffolk and Nassau county legislatures criticized the benefits as if they didn’t know about it.

What I find appalling after reading articles like this is that in April of 2005 I met with Mary Curtis, Nassau Deputy County Executive for Health & Human Services and we spoke briefly about the need for Nassau County to show some interest in patient safety as part of health and human services. She told me then, the same thing her predecessor told me a year earlier. There is no funding for patient safety education.

Only a year earlier, she was supportive because it was not her saying they can’t help, it was Mr. John Gallagher who went on to be the Interim Director and CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital.

I had the same conversation with my own county legislator Dennis Dunne Sr. and he too said there was no funding available. The list goes on and on. And in most cases, none of these county leaders even knew there was a problem with patient safety in our hospitals or in the healthcare system across the country. So, our tax dollars continue to be spent on health insurance for political appointees but not a dime is spent on Long Island for patient safety education and quality care for the residents.

I think the counties both Nassau and Suffolk owe it to the residents to put some effort into patient safety and quality education.

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