Maine Consumer Initiative to Improve Safety Uses AHRQ Resources
Armed with AHRQ resources from a 2001 User Liaison Program (ULP) meeting in Nashville and strength from a personal tragedy, Becky Martins of Voice for Patients led the consumer initiative to improve patient safety in Maine.
"An Act to Reduce Medical Errors and Improve Patient Health" established a mandatory reporting system to document sentinel events through the State Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Medical Services, Division of Licensing and Certification. The bill was passed by the Maine state legislature in 2002.
The ULP workshop, Beyond State Reporting: Brushing Up on Issues Related to Medical Errors and Patient Safety, was developed to bring together multi-disciplinary teams of senior health policy leaders from within State government, private providers, private purchasers, health plans, and consumers. The information from the ULP workshop became her body of evidence as Martins advocated for the proposed legislation after her father died because of a medical system failure.
Martins collected over 30 AHRQ background references and found support for the medical errors reporting system initiative through her father's district Representative, David Trahan.
Martins says, "It was hard to discredit the collective body of references. The [AHRQ] references, shared with legislators and combined with consumer stories from around the state, substantiated the crisis of errors." The state medical licensing boards and medical societies endorsed the legislation after the bill won bipartisan support from the legislature and was modified to guarantee confidentiality.
"Voice4Patients.Com" is a volunteer Web-based initiative designed to inform the public of medical errors and provide resources to educate consumers.