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.
NY State can help overcome voter suppression of college students  (WAMC, January 27, 2022)
The NY Legislature takes up Governor Hochul's Budget  (WAMC, January 24, 2022)
Sheldon Silver, former Assembly speaker, dies at 77  (Newsday, January 24, 2022)
State assemblyman proposes raising bottle deposit to 10 cents  (Niagara Gazette, January 22, 2022)
Breaking down the 2023 state budget proposal  (My Twin Tiers, January 21, 2022)
Mayor Adams Must Do More to Speed Up Buses, Advocates Say  (Streetsblog, January 21, 2022)
Hochul Amassed a Campaign Fortune. Here’s Who it Came From.  (The New York Times, January 20, 2022)
New York good-government advocates want moratorium on cryptomining  (Spectrum News, January 20, 2022)
NY weighs dime deposit  (Allotsego.com, January 20, 2022)
Democrats Likely to Take Control of New York Redistricting, Gain Congressional Seats  (The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2022)
New York's bottle return law would expand under new bill  (Spectrum News, January 17, 2022)
Cahill introduces legislation to modernize bottle bill  (Niagara Frontier Publications, January 17, 2022)
Legislation introduces revised bottle bill to include ten-cent returns  (ABC News 10, January 15, 2022)
Progressive, watchdog groups urge oversight in economic development  (Spectrum News, January 14, 2022)
Redemption centers, environmental groups urge bottle bill expansion, deposit increase to ten cents  (Fingerlakes1.com, January 14, 2022)
Hochul urged to expand bottle deposit law in New York  (Spectrum News, January 13, 2022)
New York’s higher education system gets renewed attention from Hochul  (Spectrum News, January 11, 2022)
Senate Advances Pro-Voter Election Reforms  (EIM Newswire, January 11, 2022)
Advocates And State Legislators Call On Gov. Hochul To End Fossil Fuels In New Buildings Through Budget  (Harlem World Magazine, January 11, 2022)
An electric idea in Governor Hochul's State of the State  (WAMC, January 10, 2022)
News Archive
NYPIRG Announces New Staff
Reactions to Governor Hochul’s FY 2022 - 2023 Executive Budget
Seventy-five Bottle Redemption Businesses and Distributors Call on Governor Hochul to Expand and Modernize NY's Bottle Deposit Law
Reactions to Governor Hochul's State of the State
NYPIRG Applauds, Criticizes, Gov Hochul’s Approvals and Veto Of Environmental Legislation
New Yorkers Call For an End to Fossil Fuel Subsidies
NYPIRG and over 100 groups call on Gov Hochul to modernize NYS's soon-to-be-40 year old bottle bill.
VICTORY! Danskammer and Astoria Power Plant Permits Denied
Straphangers Campaign Petition to Transform Transit
"Vote Yes on the Back" Factsheet: 2021 New York State Constitutional Amendment Ballot Questions
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.
Reports & Features Archive