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.
Blair Horner discusses the New York State budget amid the Covid-19 crisis on The Capitol Connection  (WAMC, May 7, 2020)
Face Masks and Crowd Control: The Race to Make Your Subway Ride Safer  (The New York Times, May 3, 2020)
Earth Week 2020  (WAMC, April 30, 2020)
Advocates: MTA Must Redistribute Service To Protect Low-Income, Essential Workers  (Streetsblog, April 8, 2020)
Environmental Measures Find Home In Budget  (Spectrum News, April 1, 2020)
Environmentalists urge water funding increases  (Albany Times-Union, March 27, 2020)
Watchdog Groups: Pass a Bare-Bones Budget  (Spectrum News, March 17, 2020)
Health Crisis Offers Opportunities For Powerful Interests  (WAMC, March 16, 2020)
Another Looming Public Health Catastrophe, "Superbugs"  (WAMC, February 25, 2020)
Lobbyists line up as Albany clash over flavored tobacco, vaping intensifies  (The Buffalo News, February 17, 2020)
Big Tobacco Strikes Back  (WAMC, January 27, 2020)
Gov. Cuomo's plan to curtail Medicaid spending could impact Nassau, Suffolk counties  (Bronx News 12, January 22, 2020)
Why NY hospitals have the worst quality, safety ratings in U.S.  (Utica Observer-Dispatch, January 20, 2020)
Rep. Kathleen Rice's amendment to help Long Island communities  (The Island Now, January 14, 2020)
New York hospital rankings: Why Empire State has worst quality, safety ratings in U.S.  (LoHud.com, January 6, 2020)
A new study ranks NYS hospitals poorly for quality of care in comparison to other states  (WSYR,January 6, 2020)
NY's poor hospital safety ratings deserve deeper look  (Albany Times-Union, January 4, 2020)
NYS hospital safety among worst in the nation  (RochesterFirst.com, January 5, 2020)
Poor Hospital Rankings Must Be Addressed By Legislature, NYPIRG Says  (WSHU, January 3, 2020)
Upstate Hospitals Fall Behind In Quality, Report Finds  (WSKG, Janaury 2, 2020)
News Archive
NYPIRG Joins Over 50 Organizations in Calling for New York to Reclaim the Stock Transfer Tax
Rock the Absentee: Vote by mail for Primary Election Day 6/23
NYPIRG Statement on NY Attorney General's Lawsuit on the EPA Dirty Water Rule
NYPIRG Urges Governor Cuomo and Lawmakers to Return to Session and Act on Key Issues
More Than 70 Organizations Call for Moratorium on Water Shutoffs
NYPIRG and Other Organizations Call for Water Infrastructure Funding
Release: NYPIRG, along with legislators and consumer, public health and environmental organizations call for protections against antibiotic-resistant "Superbugs"
Report: NYPIRG releases review of federal data on the quality of medical care at New York State hospitals
NYPIRG Releases Report on Visitor Policies at 40 Hospitals Across NYS
Sick, Scared & Separated From Loved Ones 2019: Report on Visitor Policies at 40 NYS Hospitals
News Release: Most Fast Food Chains Get Poor Grades for Overuse of Antibiotics in Beef
Report - Chain Reaction V: How Top Restaurants Rate on Reducing Antibiotic Use in Their Beef Supplies
Capital Investments: A Look at The 2018 New York State Legislative Elections
NYPIRG statement on proposed PFOA, PFOS, 1,4-dioxane MCLs
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG's 2019 Legislative Review
NYPIRG leads effort to respond to growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Joins with state lawmakers, health and environmental groups, and medical professionals to curb overuse and misuse of antibiotics
New Report: 20 Years of The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement And the Failure To Adequately Fund Tobacco Control in New York
News Release: 20 Years of The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement And the Failure To Adequately Fund Tobacco Control in New York
Governor's Budget Responds to New Yorkers' "Pent-Up Demands" For Action
2018 Trouble In Toyland Report
Reports & Features Archive