I needed an antidote. Too many drug ads—smiling people glowing with the pleasure of their successful medical treatments. But of course, they are actors.

I thought instead I’d look at the real voices in our health care system. Credit goes to the Consumer Health Quality Council for collecting stories and producing these videos.

Lisa, Linda, and Ginny remind us that our current health care system fails millions:

“I underwent multiple pain management treatments and took numerous drugs..the more they told me to give up, the harder I tried,” says Lisa of Boston who was misdiagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy.
“There were no beds available so [my mother] was left on a gurney for over 24 hours…it took a long time for the nurse to arrive to stop the bleeding on her right side..my mother was screaming from pain..in a few hours she was dead,” says Linda of Boston, whose mother died from preventable medical errors.
And Ginny of Boston says, “[Hospital-acquired] staph infection has not ruined my life but it will alter it forever.”

Presidential candidates have issued their health care proposals with lots of big media to cover them, but will the proposals help Lisa, Linda, and Ginny?

Hillary Clinton has a plan to improve health care quality by giving financial incentives to physicians who stay up on the latest medical advances and procedures. She also wants to invest $125 million improve standards for quality in doctors and hospitals. And she wants to make a “patient-friendly quality database” that will assist patients in comparing different health care delivery systems.

Barack Obama supports quality and efficiency by creating a national public program where participating insurance companies report data “to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.” Obama, a little more specific about his “quality database,” will require hospitals and providers to publicly report health care costs and quality, including data on preventable medical errors, nurse staffing ratios, hospital-acquired infections, and disparities in care.

Finally, John McCain emphasizes saving money and wants to promote competition on the cost and quality of care. He doesn’t specify how he wants to reduce medical errors, but he doesn’t want Medicare paying for them. Instead, he will “require transparency by providers regarding medical outcomes, quality of care, costs, and prices.”

Based on their campaign websites, Hillary and Obama have more developed plans for addressing the quality of health care, whereas McCain gives government a more limited role.

These video stories and other stories like them reinforce the need for doctors, hospital administrators, current and future patients, and lawmakers to offer workable solutions. Do you have a story to share?