Monday, April 9, 2007

NY State Senator Kenneth LaValle and Stony Brook

NY State Senator Kenneth LaValle introduced legislation to establish a quality assessment board of 9 - 12 outside members for Stony Brook University Medical Center that would monitor patient safety. The plan did not pass muster in Albany. The bill is reportedly the same as a resolution passed last month by trustees of SUNY.

In response, Stony Brook Hospital plans to establish an advisory board, rather than an oversight board. And instead of the state being involved in implementing the process, Stony Brook Hospital will watch over itself.

Here are three questions for Stony Brook:

Will the board included national experts on patient safety who have a track record of reducing harm from medical mistakes? I hope it does because the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences says that most doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators were not trained to make health care organizations safer. Problems can't be fixed if people don't know how to.

Will the hospital report all of its *sentinel events to the board and report how each one was handled and the actions taken to prevent them from occurring again? If the hospital can't be candid with its own oversight board, how can the board do real oversight?

Finally, what power will the board have? If it is just advisory and has no teeth, what good will it do for the people of Long Island?

What do you think about what this board should do to make health care better and safer for patients and families?

*A sentinel event is defined by the Joint Commission as any unanticipated event in a healthcare setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a person or persons, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness.

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