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New Hospital Councils Put Patients First

Male and female hospital medical staff members, portrait

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Massachusetts has taken another important step forward to improve patient safety and health care quality. With 2008’s sweeping health care cost containment and quality law, the Bay State is the first in the nation to require all hospitals to create a Patient and Family Advisory Council.

The Councils bring together current and former patients and family members to work with hospitals on improving quality of care – and the experiences of patients and families.

The groups advise on matters including:

  • patient and provider relationships
  • institutional review boards
  • quality improvement initiatives
  • patient education
  • quality matters

Improving Care, Reducing Costs

Research shows that when families and local residents are involved in advising health care professionals, patients receive more attentive care, suffer fewer medical errors and have reduced health care costs.

Already, Massachusetts hospitals report improvements. For example, at one major hospital, due to the Council’s input, families with loved ones in the Adult ICU receive pagers so that they can go to the coffee shop, cafeteria and nearby shops with the confidence that they can be reached if needed. At another hospital, the Council provided input on the design of a new building so that the best possible patient care environment could be created. And, elsewhere, a Council worked on improving a hospital’s medication reconciliation form.

Learn More About Your Hospital

By law, hospitals must provide information about their Patient and Family Advisory Council by request. Find out more about your hospital.

Councils must meet at least quarterly and must develop and implement written policies and procedures. At least 50 percent of the Council members must be current or former patients or family members, and should be representative of the community served by the hospital. Orientation, training and continuing education must be provided by the hospital to its Council members. Hospitals must make the Council’s Annual Report available publicly through electronic and other means.

Strong Advocates For Health Care Quality

As part of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, AARP Massachusetts advocated for passage of the health care cost containment and quality legislation in 2008 that, in part, established a Patient and Family Advisory Council at every hospital in the Bay State.

A public-private partnership to improve patient safety and eliminate medical errors in Massachusetts, the Coalition's membership includes consumer organizations, state agencies, hospitals, professional associations for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, long-term care, as well as health plans, employers, policymakers and researchers.