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Doctor Accountability

Doctor Accountability

When physicians provide poor quality care, their patients are typically the last to know. Some physician backgrounds may be available in your state, but can you tell which ones have the most complaints, malpractice claims or disciplinary actions? Knowing the background information on your doctor could save your life.

Consumers Union Documents

Consumers Union News Releases

Blog Posts

  • Rethinking the use of Morcellators on Women

    A morcellator is a medical device that seems like it was developed in medieval times as an instrument of torture. But it is actually marketed and used to grind up tissue during laparoscopic hysterectomies and uterine fibroid removal. It becomes problematic if the tissue being shredded is cancerous. The FDA recently issued a safety alert stating, “Morcellating these tumors can spread cancerous tissue internally and significantly worsen the odds of long-term survival.

  • Patient safety activists react to USA Today story on seniors and Rx drugs

    This week’s USA Today story about the problem of overprescribing serious narcotics and pain killers to seniors touched a nerve with Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project activists. According to the story, “hundreds of thousands of the nation’s seniors are misusing prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers, anxiety medications and other pharmaceuticals, for everything from joint pain Continue Reading

  • California Safe Patient activists celebrate progress and testify at Medical Board of California meeting

    A week ago, our Consumers Union (CU) Safe Patient Project staff went to sunny California to meet with our network of activists that are working to protect CA patients from medical harm. Find out what we did!

  • California advocates voice concerns at medical board meeting

    This month, California advocates worked with CU to voice safety concerns at the California Medical Board meeting. We testified on several issues that affect the public and transparency…

  • California advocate featured in LA Times on how to research your doctor

    Michele Monserratt-Ramos, member of CU’s California Safe Patient Network, was featured in a February 9 Los Angeles Times article on how to research your doctor. Michele has been active on patient safety issues since the tragic death of her husband-to-be, Lloyd Monserratt.

News Articles

Research and Reports

  • What to Do if You Have a Concern about the Quality of Care from a Connecticut Doctor
    Source: Informed Patient Institute (Tuesday September 30, 2014)

    This tip sheet explains steps you can take in your doctor’s office to deal with your concerns about quality. It also tells you how to contact places that regulate or oversee doctors.

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (March 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Friday February 28, 2014)

    Summary from John James: “Spring’s renewal of life has arrived in my neighborhood with robins hopping around and trees budding. I saw a spectacular red-bud tree yesterday near a bayou. One must hope that our country will renew its efforts to intelligently manage the way healthcare is delivered in America. As far as I can tell the non-system is not working well for anyone but a few medical specialists. This month’s newsletter addresses the following topics:

    • Continuing efforts to identify and discontinue worthless tests and treatments
    • The over use of Pap tests in older women
    • The failure of renal artery stenting to add value to optimal medical treatment
    • Welcome evidence that patient safety is improving in some instances
    • Trust and mistrust of medical guidelines
    • The case for less mammography screening
    • Ways smoking can be further reduced
    • Troubled peer review in VA hospitals
    • The case for improving management of obesity in very young children

    I might note that just as this issue was “going to press” the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story called “Preschooler Obesity Plunges.” It explained that there has been a 43% drop in obesity rate in 2-5 year old children during the past decade.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (October 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Wednesday October 2, 2013)

    Summary from John James: “These are frustrating days in our country because it seems that anyone left in the middle ground on major political issues is rare, or at least they dare not speak. As we chide Congress for its ineptness, we must acknowledge that we put those people there, and in most cases they reflect what we want.

    This month I was honored to have my new estimate of harm to hospitalized patients, which was published in the September issue of the Journal of Patient Safety (http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2013&issue=09000&article=00002&type=abstract), picked up Marshall Allen of Pro Publica (http://www.propublica.org/article/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-us-hospitals). He brought validity to my estimate by asking MDs in the patient safety community what they thought of my work. I have marked his and other sources that wrote about the new estimate with an asterisk in my “SitesLinks” collection this month. There are many examples of medical care gone bad.

    October’s newsletter deals with 1) over-diagnosis of mental illness, 2) the secrets of the medical industry, 3) how unintended consequences can occur when physician performance is measured, 4) the death toll on women from painkillers, 5) the need to stop calling so many things cancer, and 6) the issues associated with high blood pressure and too much sodium.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (August 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Saturday August 3, 2013)

    This month is the 5 year anniversary of the first issue of Patient Safety America Newsletter. In those years of reading medical journals and writing to inform patients of the hazards of medical care, I have learned some difficult realities.

    Perhaps foremost is that when people want to believe that their healthcare system is safe and just, their opinions are not going to be easily swayed by data and facts, regardless of how reliable the source may be. Secondly, people want to believe that physicians always have their interest at heart; this naïve supposition is not easily replaced by caution when seeking medical care. Thirdly, most people are less interested in preventing their own poor health than getting treatment when a preventable disease has gotten the best of them. Finally, most people cannot view the healthcare industry in terms of how it affects less fortunate Americans – for them it is about me and my healthcare.

    This month’s newsletter speaks about questionable drug prescribers, important new views of salt and high blood pressure, cautions for those with sleep apnea, unstable relationships between doctor and patient, and finally why can’t we pay more attention to disease prevention.

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (July 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Friday July 5, 2013)

    Summary by John James: Having spent some time lately with elderly members of my extended family, I am reminded how important healthcare is to those who suffer from collections of debilitating illnesses. As the saying goes, “Getting old is not for sissies.” That journey can be made better or worse by the healthcare system through which the elderly seek to be healed or at least sustained. The newsletter topics this month center on bias and dangers in the current medical care system. The topics are as follows:

    1) Dealing with impaired doctors.
    2) Who is buying your doctor?
    3) Getting rid of fee-for-service medical care.
    4) How to reduce overuse of medical services.
    5) Potassium as an important food-labeling target.
    6) A sleep aid that is causing too many ER visits.
    7) Continuing bad news on American infant mortality.
    8) Intrusion of government to protect its citizens.

    In key places I have given links to further information that you can use to become a more informed patient.