Medical errors and hospital infections are the third leading cause of death in the US. Patients and their family advocates – their personal ‘patient advocates’ – feel very strongly that they can help make a difference in reducing errors and infections.

Communication issues underscore most of these errors. Health care delivery is being required to become more patient directed and patient centered.

Betty Tonsing, whose book, Stand in the Way! Patient Advocates Speak Out, was published last year.  The book stemmed from her experience with her husband’s profound illness with a hospital infection following a successful knee replacement.  As his ‘patient advocate’— and resulting from many months of hospitalizations and residential care – she was astonished to witness all that she did, and wondered if she was alone with this experience.

She said she found out that, ‘no,’ she was not alone, but she clearly felt alone. She wrote the book, she said, so that others in her position would know they were not alone.

In addition to her journal, several hundred people who had been patient advocates (for a family member or friend, NOT a paid professional advocate) responded to a national survey, and an additional 20 people were interviewed.  Their  stories spanned a wide horizon of experiences related to hospitalizations, nursing home and rehab facilities, issues with medications, medical personnel, pharmacies, social workers and insurance companies.
Tonsing is asking others to take the survey to share how you communicate clearly to make a difference in quality care.

This survey focuses on how patients and their family or friend patient advocate can help reduce medical errors and HAIs (Healthcare Acquired Infections).

She said, “Today, almost everyone I speak with agrees that no one – under any circumstances – should be hospitalized or in a nursing home or rehab facility – without a patient advocate.  Perhaps more than one.  Medical errors and hospital acquired infections are the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.

“Fifty percent of the hospital infections and 90 percent of the medical errors are preventable and medication errors account for 25 to 35 percent of the medical errors.  Can patient advocates make a difference? This survey is only for volunteer patient advocates, not paid professionals.”