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Public information gap exists in regards to quality of care

According to a poll recently conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 22 percent of respondents are confident that they can successfully research and compare the quality of healthcare providers in their area. This poll confirms that Americans feel that due to their own limitations, due to limited resources or both, it is difficult to find and compare the quality of care that physicians provide.

We frequently write about the ways in which patient empowerment aids in ensuring patient safety. After all, if patients are aware that one physician has a checkered history of medical malpractice and another has a spotless patient safety record, patients will likely opt to see the physician whose patient safety record is ideal. If patients either are unsure of how to research patient safety information and/or do not have access to patient safety and quality of care statistics, they will not be able to make informed decisions about their care.

When Americans purchase vehicles, choose colleges and otherwise make major life decisions, they tend to research their options thoroughly first. However, it seems that many Americans fail to research their own health care providers, despite the fact that the care that physicians provide may be the most pivotal force one can encounter. Good quality patient care can literally mean the difference between life and death.

It is imperative that federal regulators and the medical community prioritize educating the public about quality of care and patient safety data. Americans should have access to easy comparison data so that they may better exercise their right to informed decision-making about their own healthcare.

Source: The Big Story, "Before doctors check your vitals, check out theirs," Lauran Neergaard and Jennifer Agiesta, July 20, 2014

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