In 2001, Patty and David Skolnik spent nearly three years watching their only child, Michael, play victim to a broken system as a result of unnecessary brain surgery. Due to medical error caused by negligence and incompetence, routine expectations of our healthcare system proved ineffective in providing quality medical care and patient safety for 22 year old Michael Skolnik.
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
- Find out if your doctor takes payments from drug companies Source: Consumer Reports (Thursday October 30, 2014)
This Tuesday the federal government under the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, as part of the Affordable Healthcare Act, began to release details of payments from pharmaceutical and medical device makers to doctors and teaching hospitals for promotional speaking, consulting, meals, travel, research, and other activities. Research shows these payments influence doctors in their choice of treatments.
- Tips for searching doctor payment site
The Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services has published data on drug and device company payments to doctors. Here are tips for searching the site and downloading data.
- Consumers Union April 28, 2014 Letter Regarding Opposition AB 2346 (Gonzales) Source: Consumers Union (Monday April 28, 2014)
Consumers Union opposes AB 2346 (Gonzales) which would create a program that secretly diverts drug and alcohol addicted physicians from a public disciplinary track into a voluntary monitoring program, where physician participation and possible impairment are kept secret from both the CA medical board and patients.
- Consumers Union Letter to Susan Bonilla, Chair of Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee on AB 1886 Source: Consumers Union (Wednesday March 26, 2014)
Consumers Union urges the chair to vote yes on A.B. 1886 (Eggman), which would remove arbitrary and unwarranted time limits on the availability to patients of important information regarding California physicians.
- Letter from Consumers Union and Washington Advocates for Patient Safety on medical board secrecy Source: Consumers Union (Monday February 10, 2014)
Consumers Union and the Washington Advocates for Patient Safety oppose SBH 2139 unless it is amended to make the “nondisciplinary resolution” of complaints and physician problems a part of the public record at the state and national level.
Consumers Union News Releases
- Consumers Union To Hold “Ending Medical Harm” Conference at Columbia University On November 6th
CONSUMERS UNION NEWS RELEASE For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Contact: Michael McCauley, firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-902-9537 (cell) or Ross Moonie, email@example.com or 917-690-5713 or Joe Duraes, firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-293-0100 Consumers Union To Hold “Ending Medical Harm” Conference at Columbia University On November 6 Conference To Focus on Tackling The 3rd Leading Cause of Death Continue Reading
- California Medical Board reforms needed
Monday, March 11, 2013 Consumers Union Urges California to Adopt Medical Board Reforms to Improve Oversight of Centers and Problem Physicians State Lawmakers Begin Sunset Review of the Medical Board of California SACRAMENTO, CA – Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, urged state lawmakers today to implement a number of Continue Reading
- Consumers Union: Public Should Have Full Access to Doctor Database, Including Names of Problem Physicians
Consumer Reports Poll: Almost 9 in 10 Americans Say Public Should Have Access to Information Collected by Feds on Doctors
- CU urges HHS to restore online doctor database
HHS decision to remove online access runs counter to Administration pledge to promote transparency
- Governor Gregoire Signs Bill To Create More Transparency When Patients File Complaints Against Health Care Workers
When Patients File Complaints Against Health Care Workers Washington Law Could Serve As A Model For Other States.
- These people are working to make your health care safer
Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project hosts a national gathering of patient safety activists from across the country to connect face-to-face, share information and strategize on future work together. This year November 11-13, we held our 9th summit in Yonkers, NY, headquarters of Consumer Reports.
- 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…
- ProPublica Analysis: Government’s New Doctor Payments Website Worthy of a Recall Source: ProPublica (Wednesday October 1, 2014)
Health reporter Charles Ornstein takes a test drive using the federal government’s new website for drug and device payments. He finds it virtually unusable.
- ProPublica: Our First Dive Into the New Open Payments System Source: ProPublica (Tuesday September 30, 2014)
The government’s data on payments to doctors and hospitals by drug and device makers is incomplete and hard to penetrate – but here’s a first look. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)
- Database shows $3.5 billion in industry ties to doctors, hospitals Source: LA Times (Wednesday October 1, 2014)
“This exposure will require everybody to talk about something that’s been underground,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.
- California could change how nursing home residents receive antipsychotics Source: Reporting on Health (Monday September 8, 2014)
Reporting on Health’s Bill Heisel covers a debate stirring over the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Safe Patient Project activist, Marian Hollingsworth, weighs in.
- Should signed consents be required to give nursing home residents antipsychotics? Source: Reporting on Health (Friday September 12, 2014)
Reporting on Health’s Bill Heisel discusses issues around informed consent for nursing home residents.
Research and Reports
- Mapping the Terrain of Graduate Medical Education: A Patient's Perspective, Helen Haskell, MA Source: Journal of Graduate Medical Education (Thursday October 2, 2014)
Helen Haskell (2014) Mapping the Terrain of Graduate Medical Education: A Patient’s Perspective. Journal of Graduate Medical Education: September 2014, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 437-459.
- 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.