Unneeded medical procedures. Doctors prescribing the wrong medications.
In the eyes of Donna Kusuda, these things often happen because of a simple breakdown in communication between patients and their doctors.
“Communication is sort of at the heart of how things get missed,” Kusuda said.
A group of health care providers and physician associations across Colorado aims to raise awareness of similar patient safety issues in the coming years. The coalition, called Think About It Colorado, offers a wide range of tips and educational tools to help patients learn how to properly navigate the health care system.
“We want to balance raising issues that are still concerning about the safety of health care, balance that with celebrating what’s being done to improve safety,” said Kusuda, chairwoman for the board overseeing the coalition. “So the good news and the bad news, sort of thing.”
The coalition was formed in 2010 and now focuses on the increasing number of people with access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In particular, the coalition aims to help people who have never had health insurance — many of whom will begin regularly seeing a physician for the first time in their lives.
About one in six Coloradans, or 829,000 people, went without health insurance in 2011, according to the Colorado Health Institute’s most recent count.
Many of those people only received care in hospital emergency rooms, meaning they never learned how to talk to a doctor regularly about their health, Kusuda said.
For example, unneeded procedures can take place when patients don’t question their doctor enough before undergoing a procedure, or when patients fail to ask their doctors the right questions.
“Not having the accurate information is a big safety issue,” Kusuda said. “And that’s one of the things that the patient can really take charge of.”
And that’s where the information found at Think About It Colorado’s website can come in useful, Kusuda said — providing a one-stop shop for learning how to better communicate with doctors.
“We don’t want the issue of safety to get lost in the shuffle,” Kusuda said.
To learn more about the coalition, visit www.thinkaboutitcolorado.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog post has been changed to state the correct year that Think About It Colorado was formed.