Last week, the Safe Patient Project traveled to Washington State to team up with Washington Advocates for Patient Safety to give a voice to the health care crisis of preventable medical harm, the third leading cause of death in America. WAPS members have been personally touched by medical harm; they have lost loved ones or were injured by medical implants. We chose WA state because of the great work that WAPS is doing to improve statewide reporting of medical errors, and to bring more attention to our hip and knee warranty campaign. For months, we’ve been working to get the top hip and knee implant makers to warranty their products that would entitle patients to a no-cost revision surgery if their implant fails.

Together we rode to Olympia, the capital of Washington, to meet with the Governor’s office and legislative staffers about the importance of medical error reporting and improving transparency of doctors in WA that have caused harm to patients. We held a patient safety briefing to discuss our work and were joined by our colleague David Ansley who presented on Consumer Reports’ Choosing Wisely campaign, which informs people that more care doesn’t always equal better care; many tests, procedures are wasteful, inappropriate and even harmful.  CU and WAPS discussed a KUOW report that illustrated the incomplete picture that Washington residents have of the scope of medical errors due to underreporting by hospitals. We think that the public should have access to more complete and accurate data on medical errors in WA and that it will lead to better care.

While in Seattle, Consumers Union presented on our hip and knee warranty campaign to the Robert Bree Collaborative, a statewide group working to improve health care quality and safety in WA state. It was a great opportunity to spread the word about our warranty campaign to an audience of health professionals from the consumer perspective.

Last year, CU and WA advocates were successful in convincing the governor to keep public reporting of infections associated with hip and knee surgery, as well as cardiac surgeries. We’re eager to see more progress made in Washington due to the hard work of these WA advocates.