Government Promotes Communication Between Doctors and Patients to Reduce Pharmacy Errors Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ARHQ), an agency of the federal government, has partnered with the Ad Council to promote two-way communication between patients and their doctors as a means of improving care and reducing errors. The campaign currently focuses on public service advertisements targeting clinicians and emphasizing the idea that simple communication with patients can be one of the most powerful diagnostic tools. According to research, patients are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans if they engage in direct communication with their doctors. Communication can also help doctors understand a patient’s condition and make more informed decisions as to medications.

This Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog has previously reported on various efforts by doctors and hospitals to improve patient safety. Both Maryland and Oregon have shown signs of improvement in communication between pharmacies and state pharmacy boards, leading to successes in both reporting of errors and prevention of future errors in hospitals. The “Good Catch” program, pioneered at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins, promotes voluntary reporting of errors through internal hospital channels in the hopes of preventing more serious errors before they occur. The program has caught on in other hospitals around the country and has produced positive results.

The ARHQ/Ad Council campaign differs from the above programs in that it is an initiative of the federal government, and therefore has potential to reach doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies nationwide. It also represents a collaboration between the public and private sectors, with the nonprofit Ad Council distributing PSA’s for the ARHQ. The ARHQ is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its mandate is to conduct and support research regarding issues of health care such as safety, quality, cost, and access. It publishes and disseminates this research to clinicians nationwide. The agency also regulates certified Patient Safety Organizations, groups authorized by federal statute to promote reduction of medical errors and improvement of patient safety.

The Ad Council is a quasi-public non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements for other non-profits and government agencies. Formed during World War II to rally the advertising industry to support the war effort, it developed “Rosie the Riveter” as one of its early campaigns. It has since conducted many famous campaigns, including Smokey the Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog, and the “Crying Indian” anti-pollution ads. It is therefore a powerful ally in support of patient safety.

The laws addressing medication and pharmacy errors primarily operate at the state level, through legal principles such as negligence and medical malpractice. Federal law regulates the distribution and sale of prescription medications, occasionally supplemented by state laws, but claims for damages resulting from medication errors operate almost exclusively in state courts. An effort by the federal government to educate both the medical community and the public about good communication and reduction of pharmacy errors could hopefully yield significant improvements nationwide.

The Maryland pharmacy error attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at assessing liability and damages for injuries caused by medication errors and helping their clients obtain compensation. For a free consultation to review your case, contact a lawyer today.

Web Resources:

The 10 Questions You Should Know, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

More Blog Posts:

Study Finds Maryland Hospitals Improve Safety and Health Standards, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 17, 2010
Children’s Hospital Launches Initiative to Prevent Medication Error, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 1, 2010
Maryland Pharmacists Must Offer to Educate Patients on Medication Errors, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 15, 2009

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