Thursday, April 30, 2009
A coalition of health care organizations hosted a community forum to discuss how consumers can affect change in health care policy and safety by becoming more engaged in their treatment. The meeting was billed as "unusual" because it sought out the opinions and ideas of consumers rather than health care administrators, doctors and experts. Lisa McGiffert, campaign director for the Consumers Union says that the patient's voice is often left out when it comes to discussing health care policy. She says she frequently hears from patients who have been victims of medical errors, but were never told the details of the mistake. She says the silence on the part of the medical establishment may be to shield themselves from lawsuits, but neglects the needs of the people they serve. She says patients can wield more influence when they educate themselves on issues of patient treatment and safety, and when they form groups that can lobby local hospitals for inclusion in policy making decisions.