Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Stimulus

I went to a meeting yesterday hosted by the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee. Thank goodness for organizations like this that have seminars and programs for nonprofit organizations. They offer information, advice and resources to organizations in NY at no charge (accept a small membership fee). The opportunities to network are valuable too.

This seminar, “Managing in Hard Times: Effect of the Federal Stimulus Package on New York Nonprofits” is part of a series.

The panel explained how the money will be divided up between the different areas. My concern was the billions going into healthcare.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (AHRQ) has information for patients and families. AHRQ reports on their website that: “the single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team.”

But when I asked the panelists at this seminar what the plan is to fund programs to help make patients and their families more involved in their healthcare, the first panel, from NY City programs said they will have to get back to me.

Money from the US Health and Human Services is going towards IT. Electronic Medical Records is important for patient safety. But, it surely is not all there is.

Additional information found on the AHRQ website is that “medical errors are one of the Nation's leading causes of death and injury. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS”.

The US Department of Health and Human Services is acknowledging that patient’s safety is a big problem. But, medical records is not the only problem:

“Doctors often do not do enough to help their patients make informed decisions. Uninvolved and uninformed patients are less likely to accept the doctor's choice of treatment and less likely to do what they need to do to make the treatment work.”

So how do we fix this problem? Funding needs to be allotted to educate patients, train advocates and empower the public with information.

The second panel, all from Albany, many representing the governors office were asked the same question. I wanted to know what they were going to do to be sure the public is aware of their role in patient safety and reducing medical errors.

Their response: We’ll get back to you on this.

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