PITTSBURGH, April 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement of Reverend Sally Jo Snyder, Director of Advocacy and Consumer Engagement, Consumer Health Coalition:
"Hospitals should be places that help us heal, make us better, and put us on the road to recovery or to the very best health that is possible. But in our country today – and here in Pittsburgh – too many hospitals are unhealthy places where patients are exposed to infection, endangered by poorly coordinated care, and discharged without adequate instructions or the follow-up services they need to get better and manage their condition at home. For older patients with multiple health conditions, the risks associated with these problems are enormous.
"Poor hospital care is a huge problem. Nationwide, some 1.7 million health care associated infections occur each year in hospitals. They lead to about 100,000 deaths. That's 100,000 people who go to a hospital to get well, and instead lose their lives because they picked up an infection at the place that should have helped them heal. In Pennsylvania, 23,287 patients contracted at least one health care associated infection in 2009; these patients received care that was 5.4 times more expensive and were six times more likely to die. For every patient who dies, many more get sicker, are readmitted to a hospital or admitted to a nursing home when that could have been avoided. The family members and family caregivers of these patients suffer too.
"I know. I'm one of those caregivers. My mother Dorothy Beale Snyder died from a hospital acquired infection. I can use no other phrase than 'an absolute horror' to describe the experience. Conflicting prescriptions, lack of information, competing hospital systems, and an attempt to cover up by a quick discharge are aspects of her story.
"For my mother and my family, and for every member of this community who may someday need hospital care, we are supporting the new federal 'Partnership for Patients' (partnershippledge.HealthCare.gov) unveiled in Washington, D.C. today. This new federal initiative is a welcome first step. But it is only a first step toward the hospital improvements we urgently need. We are launching our own 'Healthy Hospitals Initiative' to ensure that hospitals meet the goals of providing safer and better coordinated care.
"First, we will organize patients and families in Pittsburgh to convince hospital leaders to sign onto these goals, and we will monitor their progress.
"Second, we will be energetic partners in this effort and will ask hospital leaders to work together with patients and families to improve the care they deliver. No hospital can truly achieve better care without directly involving patients and families in their efforts.
"Finally, we will ask our elected leaders to help us with this work. Pennsylvania is facing critical budget challenges. We need to use our Medicaid and Medicare dollars wisely. Paying for bad care costs all of us more. We must use our health care dollars to ensure better, safer and more affordable care.
"The Partnership for Patients' pledge is a first step. We will join the Campaign for Better Care in this work until our hospitals are not the problem, but rather the solution.
"We are in this for the long haul. Hospitals should be part of a continuum of comprehensive, coordinated, affordable care that meets the needs of patients, especially those who are most vulnerable, and improves health in their communities.
"We will fight for a system that gives every patient the right medicine in the right dose at the right time – and that helps doctors and nurses talk to each other and really listen to patients and their families.
"We will fight for a system where care is coordinated between doctors, specialists, labs, and pharmacies.
"We will fight until no patient is sent home from the hospital confused about medications, and without the information and services that make recovery at home possible.
"We will fight until patients and their families have a real voice as hospitals set policies and priorities.
"We will fight until no lawmaker tries to reduce deficits by cutting Medicare and Medicaid in ways that harm patient care.
"We will fight until doctors and nurses can provide the quality care they want their patients to have.
"We will fight until every hospital is a healthy hospital. That work begins today."
SOURCE Consumer Health Coalition