State House Events Brings Attention to Health Care Quality


Health Care For All and the Consumer Health Quality Council coordinated a State House event today with a focus on health care quality. The event was timed to coincide with this week’s release of the new public reports on Serious Reportable Events and Healthcare Associated Infections in Massachusetts hospitals. Read today’s Globe article about the reports. (Note-yesterday’s blog write-up said there was a total of 434 infections reported in MA between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, but the Globe number of 474 infections is correct. The HCFA blog entry neglected to include the 40 infections reported in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs). Also, download our two-page fact sheet about the reports and see the presentation on the reports given at yesterday’s Public Health Council meeting.

Today’s event served to both educate legislators, their staff and other attendees about the reports and to inform them about the breadth of work that takes place at DPH’s Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality. Click here to see a list of the many areas in which the Bureau works, and learn more on the DPH website. Budget cuts are threatening the ability of the Bureau to continue doing much of this work, including the work it does to prevent infections and the work it does to investigate complaints, send surveyors out to health care institutions, and work with the institutions to improve quality. It is imperative that funding for this lifesaving work be preserved.

A number of speakers at today’s event brought this message home: Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) and Representative Denise Provost (D-Somerville) spoke about the work that has been done and still needs to be done to reduce infections and errors and improve quality. Senator Moore pointed out, as does Jim Conway in the Globe article, that while Massachusetts hospitals can look at the new report on infections and see that, for the most part, their infection rates are at or below the national average, they should not rest easy with this information but rather should always be looking to do better and to get to zero. Dr. Alice Bonner, Director of the Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality, spoke about the work of the Bureau while Elizabeth Daake of the Bureau spoke specifically about the reports and collaborative work that is taking place to look at areas of concern and work with hospitals to make improvements.

Consumer Council President Ken Farbstein shared a story that related to the SRE reports while Consumer Council member Lucilia Prates’ video story about her dad’s death due to an infection and a series of medical errors served to remind everyone why this work is so important. HCFA Executive Director Amy Whitcomb Slemmer urged everyone to support funding for DPH’s quality work.

To learn more about HCFA’s work on infections and serious events as well as other areas of quality and patient safety, contact Deb Wachenheim at dwachenheim@hcfama.org.
-Deb Wachenheim

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