Alliance for Patient Safety

                            All that is necessary for the triumph of evil...
                                                                ... is for good men to do nothing.

                                                                                                   Edmund Burke

September 2, 2011

Senator Tom Harkin
Chairman U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education Labor & Pensions
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Harkin,

We are writing to request your support for legislation to make the complete findings of hospital accreditation surveys available and readily accessible to the public.

Currently, the results of hospital accreditation surveys cannot be accessed by the public under Section 1865 [42 U.S.C. 1395bb] (b) of the Social Security Act which reads as follows:

"(b) The Secretary may not disclose any accreditation survey (other than a survey with respect to a home health agency) made and released to the Secretary by[615] the American Osteopathic Association[616] or any other national accreditation body, of an entity accredited by such body, except that the Secretary may disclose such a survey and information related to such a survey to the extent such survey and information relate to an enforcement action taken by the Secretary." (Source:"> )
We believe it is in the public's interest to have all accreditation survey findings of The Joint Commission and other bodies accessible to the public. This includes initial survey findings as well as follow-up survey findings which takes place weeks later after remedial action may have been taken.

Hospitals have a choice. They may choose to be surveyed by state agencies in lieu of accreditation by The Joint Commission or other entities. Only a small minority of hospitals elect this option.

In your home state of Iowa, state accreditation surveys are performed by the Division of Health Facilities, Iowa Department of Inspections & Appeals. These survey results are available to the public. The survey results from The Joint Commission are not available to the public.

We believe that the public has a right to information irrespective of the entity that conducts the surveys. The present situation creates a double standard. It also raises the question as to why the federal government allows two different standards.

In comparable public services sectors such as public health and education, inspections of restaurants and performance of schools are transparent to the public. Hospitals should be held to the same standard. Their performance should no longer be shielded from the public.

The process measures of The Joint Commission have been extensively researched and are not subject to risk adjustment concerns that surround outcome measures. The Joint Commission was also founded by the healthcare industry, including the American Hospital Association, and currently is funded by the organizations it accredits. Thus, its methodology should be considered the gold standard by the organizations it accredits.

We respectfully request your support for the repeal of Section 1865 [42 U.S.C. 1395bb] (b) of the Social Security Act to allow hospital accreditation survey findings be made readily available to the public; and

the ready availability of investigative results to both the public and to individuals who have lodged a complaint of substandard care, along with the plans of improvement for the correction of deficiencies found during institutional surveys and investigations.

In addition, The Joint Commission and any accrediting body of healthcare facilities should be made subject to the Federal Freedom of Information Act as a condition of their authority for performing accreditation surveys and complaint investigations.

Transparency in healthcare is of vital importance to encourage hospitals to improve their quality and safety. Thank you for your kind consideration of our request.

Kevin T. Kavanagh, MD, MS, FACS
Health Watch USA (Lead & Contact Organization)
3396 Woodhaven Dr.
Somerset, KY 42503 Cell: 606-875-3642

Ken Farbstein, MPP
President, Patient AdvoCare.
Needham, MA

Cautious Patient Foundation
Bill Thatcher, Executive Director
Jen Dingman, CPF, Advisory Member Houston, TX

Citizen Advocacy Center (CAC)
David Swankin, Esq., President and CEO
Rebecca LeBuhn, Board Chair
1400 16th Street NW, Suite 101
Washington, DC 20036

Consumers Union Safe Patient Project (Contact Organization)
Lisa McGiffert, Director
512-477-4431 ext 115

Johannah Back
Parent/Patient Advocate
Advocating Against Tubing Misconnections
Las Vegas, NV

Michael Bennett
The Coalition For Patients' Rights
Baltimore, Maryland

Patty Black,
Co-Chair Patient Advisory Council
PeaceHealth MG
IHI Patient Advocate
Eugene, OR

Mary Brennan-Taylor
Patient Advocate
University at Buffalo Patient Safety Research Center
Buffalo, NY

Amanda Buchanan
Patient Advocate
Trustee, Weiser Memorial Hospital
Weiser, Idaho

Jari Holland Buck
Patient Advocate
Author of Hospital Stay Handbook: A Guide to Becoming a Patient Advocate for Your Loved Ones
Graduate Student - University of Toledo Patient Advocate Certificate Program
Overland Park, KS

Linda Carswell
Jerry Carswell Foundation
4000 Purdue St.
Houston, TX 77005

Kathleen Clark
Attorney At Law
CEO, Servant Lawyership Pleasant Hill, CA Alicia R. Cole
Hospital-acquired Infection Survivor Alliance for Safety Awareness for Patients Sherman Oaks, Ca 91403

Margo Corbett
The Savvy Patient School Clemmons, NC

Kathy Day, RN
Patient Safety Activist McCleary MRSA Prevention
Bangor, ME

Carl Flatley DDS, MSD
Founder/Chairman Sepsis Alliance
Tampa, Florida

Crystal Fornes, NP, RN
Blue Compass Healthcare Advocates New York, NY

Harvey S. Frey MD PhD JD, Director
Health Administration Responsibility Project, Inc.
Santa Monica, CA

Julia A. Hallisy, D.D.S.,
Inc. President
The Empowered Patient Coalition

Helen Haskell, President
Mothers Against Medical Error
155 S Bull St. Columbia, SC 29205

Carol Hemmelgarn
Patient Advocate
Highlands Ranch, CO

Regina Holliday
Medical Advocacy Mural Project
Washington, DC

Libby Hoy, Founder
Patient & Family Centered Care Partners,
Long Beach, CA

Veronica James
Patient Safety Activist and Family Caregiver
Paramus, NJ

Gary Lampman
Patient Safety Advocate
Hendersonville, TN 37075

Paul F. Levy
Former hospital administrator
Newton, MA

Alan Levine
Health Care Advocate
Washington, DC

Charles B. Maclean, PhD
Advocate for Patient Advocacy Founder and Committed Listener
Portland, OR PhilanthropyNow

Mary Ellen Mannix
James's Project
618 Kirsch Ave
Wayne, PA 19087

Grace Martin
Representative of Victim and Victim's family
P.O. Box 63
Leonia, NJ 07605

Pat Mastors
Patient Advocate
Founder, CEO, Pear Health East Greenwich, RI

Evelyn V. McKnight, President
HONOReform/HONOReform Foundation
415 E. 23rd Street, Suite A
Fremont, NE 68025

Dale Ann Micalizzi
Justin's HOPE Project
Schenectady, NY

Roberta Mikles RN BA
Dialysis Patient Safety Advocate
San Diego, CA

Gil Mileikowsky MD President and Founder
Alliance For Patient Safety, AFPS,
2934 1/2 North Beverly Glen Circle, # 373
Los Angeles, California 90077

Lori Nerbonne, RN, BSN
6 Fieldstone Drive
Bow, NH 03304
New Hampshire Patient Voices

Kerry O'Connell
Consumer Advocate
Denver, CO 80238

Nancy Oliver
Patient Safety Advocate
Cincinnati, Ohio

James Padilla, JD
Patient Advocate
Tiffon, OH

Dianne Parker
Founder Advocates in Action for Patient Safety
South Carolina

Tricia Pil, MD
Pediatrician, Medical Writer, and Patient Safety Advocate
Pittsburgh, PA

Pam Pires
Patient Safety Activist
Safe Patient Project
San Jose, CA 95121

Jean Rexford
Connecticut Center for Patient Safety
PO Box 231335
Hartford, CT 06123-1335

Suzan Shinazy RN
Patient Advocate
Napa, CA

Patty Skolnik
Executive Director
Citizens for Patient Safety
801 Yosemite St. Denver, CO 80230

Cybele Sack
ImPatient for Change Toronto, Canada

Jeanine Thomas
MRSA Survivors Network
Hinsdale, IL

Lee Tilson, JD
Patient Advocate, Attorney
4141 Commonwealth
Detroit, MI

Trisha Torrey
Every Patient’s Advocate
Baldwinsville, NY

Jan S. Vick
Executive Director
SC Voices for Patient Safety
Chesterfield, SC 29709

Deb Wachenheim
Health Quality Manager
Health Care For All
30 Winter Street, 10th floor
Boston, MA 02108

Bart Windrum
Axiom Action
Boulder, Colorado

Yanling Yu, Ph. D
Patient Rights and Safety Advocate
Seattle, WA

Copy Sent To:

Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201

Donald Wright, MD, MPH -- Deputy Assistant Secretary for Healthcare Quality, Office of the Secretary, US Dept HHS.

Carolyn Clancy, MD – Director Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Nancy Wilson, MD, MPH -- Joint Senior Advisor to Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and to the Office of the Secretary, US Dept HHS.

Sheila Roman, MD, MPH – Senior Medical Officer, Hospital and Ambulatory Policy Group, CMS. Thomas Hamilton – Director, Survey and Certification Group, CMS. Mark Chassin, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.P.P., M.P.H., President of The Joint Commission, One Renaissance Blvd, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181.