Medical Errors Focus of New Campaign

U.S. government wants patients to ask the right questions, protect their health

TUESDAY, March 13, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health officials have launched a national public service campaign to encourage adults to take a more proactive role in their health care and prevent medical errors.

The federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in partnership with the Advertising Council, has launched "Questions are the Answer: Get More Involved With Your Health Care."

"We hope that these new public service advertisements will show millions of Americans that they shouldn't be afraid to ask questions related to their health and that their providers are interested in answering them," AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy said in a prepared statement.

The campaign includes television, radio, print and Web ads that encourage people to call a toll-free number and/or visit a Web site to get tips on how they can get more involved in their health care and help prevent medical errors.

The campaign's Web site also offers an interactive feature that enables people to create a customized list of questions that they can bring to their medical appointments.

Each year in the United States, medical errors in hospitals cause an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths (a minimum of 120 deaths per day), according to the Institute of Medicine. That's more than the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes, breast cancer or AIDS.

Research shows that patients who get involved in their health care can greatly improve the safety of their care. However, most patients don't know what steps they can take to help prevent medical errors, the AHRQ said.

More information

Here's where you can find the Questions Are the Answer Web site. You can also call this toll-free number, 1-800-931-AHRQ.

SOURCE: U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, March 7, 2007
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