Health and Patient Rights

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From helping New Yorkers protect themselves from skyrocketing drug prices and toxic chemicals, to advocating for visitors’ access to loved ones in the hospital, to ensuring accessibility to high quality and affordable medical care, NYPIRG takes on a broad range of topics to protect patient health.

NYPIRG’s health and patient rights work is currently focused on empowering healthcare consumers by:

  • Eliminating barriers to family support presence and participation in hospitals. Improving the opportunities for patients and their chosen family caregivers or trusted support persons to participate in and be active partners in care; ensuring a more supportive environment for the patient while in the hospital; making it easier for patients to keep track of health care information and decisions needed; and improving the transition from hospital to home or other care environments.
  • Protecting Patients. The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine has documented that a staggering number of patient injuries and deaths result from poor quality medical care in hospitals. Two decades after this report, policymakers will continue to grapple with meeting the state’s goal of cutting the number of medical errors in half over the next few years. NYPIRG will push proposals to better identify hospitals’ medical outcomes, reduce prescription errors, better monitor office-based surgeries, ensure that providers’ medical skills are continually evaluated, and hold hospitals and physicians legally accountable for the care they deliver. See our resources and tips to help consumers choose a hospital with a good track record on keeping its patients safe from harm.
  • Supporting Health Insurance for All. Many of New York State’s 2.5 million previously-uninsured received relief through implementation of federal health care reform. Changes by the federal government have put those gains at risk. The state should begin to examine additional measures to help those left out of the coverage, including a system of “single payer" health insurance.
  • Bolstering Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention. Each year in New York, thousands of children are newly identified as “lead poisoned," having high levels of lead in their blood, indicating they are likely to suffer permanent IQ loss and other health problems. There is no treatment for lead poisoning; prevention is the only way to address the lead poisoning epidemic. NYPIRG will push the state to fully implement programs for safer lead paint remediation practices, better primary prevention, improved childhood lead screening and financial support for property owners to clean up lead problems.
  • Fighting Cancer. Despite raising $2.6 billion in tobacco revenues, New York State has been systematically dismantling its program to help smokers to quit and to keep kids from starting this deadly addiction. NYPIRG continues to urge that the state’s tobacco control program be funded at levels consistent with recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, NYPIRG continues to advocate for free cancer screening for those without health insurance and pushes to protect the public from the dangers posed by indoor tanning facilities.
  • Protecting Public Health Funding. In addition to the cuts to the tobacco control program, other important public health measures have faced budget threats. These life-savings programs must be bolstered by new state support.

Resources and Tips for Choosing Hospital Care

Getting good medical care isn’t a sure thing. While the vast majority of providers meet minimum requirements or better, many Americans are injured or killed by the medical care they receive. Positive medical care outcomes depend on carefully-coordinated care, communication, and policies designed to protect patients from harm. Not all hospitals are alike. Choosing the right hospital can be even more important than picking the right doctor. Below are several resources to guide consumers in their research:
  • The Leapfrog Group – This hospital survey is considered by many to be the “gold standard" for comparing hospitals on standards of safety, quality, and efficiency. Leapfrog collects voluntarily-provided surveys from nearly 2,000 hospitals and cross checks it with other publicly-released data and medical experts to issue annual rankings. Leapfrog then ranks the states based on the number of hospitals that have achieved an “A" ranking. This year, the state of Maine topped the list with nearly 70 percent of its hospitals earning an “A." Rounding out the top five this year were Hawaii, Oregon, Wisconsin and Idaho.
  • New York State Health Department Hospital Profiles – This site provides some useful information on the frequency of medical procedures that are performed at each hospitals.
  • New York State Health Department Doctor Profiles – This site allows patients access to background information on physicians.
  • US News & World Reports’ Annual Hospital Report – The rankings and ratings compare more than 4,500 medical centers nationwide.
  • Healthgrades.com - This site has comprehensive information on hospitals, such as quality ratings and affiliated physicians, and also has a database to help consumers find individual doctors.
In addition to researching the sources mentioned earlier, here are some additional ways patients can be vigilant right now:
  • Ask questions. Gain as much insight as you can from your health-care provider. Ask about the benefits, side effects and disadvantages of a recommended medication or procedure.
  • Seek a second opinion. If the situation warrants or if uncertainties exist, get a second opinion from another doctor: A good doctor will welcome confirmation of his/her diagnosis and resist any efforts to discourage the patient from learning more.
  • Bring along an advocate. Sometimes it is hard to process all the information by yourself. Bring a family member or a friend to your appointment — someone who can take notes and help you understand the information and ask questions.
New York officials split on special ballot proposals  (Adirondak News, October 18, 2021)
Supporters, critics sound off on green amendment, on statewide ballots next month  (Newsday, October 16, 2021)
Hochul wants to 'blow up JCOPE.' But how?  (San Antonio Express News, October 15, 2021)
Voters statewide will have a say on major and minor changes to New York Constitution  (The Buffalo News, October 15, 2021)
House Republican followed Trump's self-dealing model, spent thousands on her own companies: report  (Salon, October 14, 2021)
Why is Gov. Kathy Hochul calling Cynthia Nixon?  (City & State, October 13, 2021)
Firm that hired ex-Cuomo aide received no-bid state contract  (Newsday, October 10, 2021)
Redistricting referendum could extend Democratic enrollment advantage  (Newsday, October 9, 2021)
Gov. Kathy Hochul has had a heck of a New York honeymoon  (City & State, October 8, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, October 7, 2021)
What the Five Ballot Proposal Questions Mean for New Yorkers this November  (The City, October 5, 2021)
Wall Street dumps shares of Greenidge Generation stock ahead of air emissions hearings on ‘carbon neutral’ bitcoin mining  (Fingerlakes1.com, October 4, 2021)
Make polluters pay, activists tell Schumer: ‘You make a mess, you clean it up’  (NY Daily News, October 3, 2021)
Tish James tiptoes  (Newsday, September 29, 2021)
Kathy Hochul wants to clean up Albany. So did the last guy.  (Politico, September 29, 2021)
New York’s redistricting tests Democratic opposition to gerrymandering  (The Washington Post, September 27, 2021)
In redistricting, big cities have big say in power balance  (The Sentinel Record, September 27, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
In redistricting, big say for big cities in DC power balance  (ABC News 12, September 26, 2021)
State government has a corruption problem, can Sen. Biaggi fix it?  (The Riverdale Press, September 26, 2021)
News Archive
NYPIRG Is Hiring: Environmental Policy Director
NYPIRG Is Hiring: New York City Equity and Resiliency Projects Regional Director
NY Congress Members Urge Speaker Pelosi to Make Polluters Pay for Climate Destruction Costs
NYPIRG Statement on the August 2021 report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Release: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
Letter: Leading Climate & Social Justice Organizations Rally Around Make Polluters Pay Plan
NYPIRG Calls for Creation of Public Dashboard to Measure Progress Toward New York’s Climate Goals
Letter to DEC: NYPIRG Calls for Clear and Accessible Public Reporting on Climate Progress
Environmental groups call for a moratorium on the operation of cryptocurrency mining centers
NYPIRG Statement on Passage of Legislation to Ensure All New Yorkers Have Testing for Dangerous Unregulated Contaminants
Senior, Consumer, Disability, and Civic Organizations Urge Passage of Grieving Families Act
Groups Urge Modernization of NY’s Pre-Civil War Wrongful Death Statute
NYPIRG joined with four dozen public health, consumer, and animal welfare groups to urge Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders to act to improve protections against the rise of antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that originate from farms and food.
Council Members, Climate Activists New York City Council to Enact Gas Free NYC Bill to Reduce Air Pollution and Create Green Jobs
NYPIRG Reacts to Closure of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
NYPIRG reacts to Census reapportionment numbers - NY will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives
2021 State Budget Reaction
NYS Legislature Passes First Step in Fight Against “Superbugs”; NYPIRG Urges Lawmakers to “Finish the Job” and Tackle the Growth of “Superbugs” in Agriculture
NYPIRG and New York's leading civic organizations call for an overhaul in ethics enforcement. The coalition urges that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) be replaced and a new independent ethics watchdog be created.
Statement on New Information Regarding PFAs Incineration at Norlite Plant in Cohoes
Statement on Climate Action Council Energy Efficiency and Housing Advisory Panel Recommendations
Reports & Features Archive