Patient safety must come first

Rose Ramirez and James D. Grant

Patients put their lives in the hands of their health care providers every day.

Every day, physicians, nurses, technologists and others work hard to keep that trust. Health care providers keep it by being transparent. We keep it by doing what is right, despite the pressures put upon us. But more than anything, we keep it by putting patients first.

It might seem obvious, but that’s what health care is supposed to be all about—helping patients. And doctors and nurses provide the highest quality health care when we work together as a team. We are a team that strives each day for the better health of each of our patients and a team to be supported and strengthened by state policies that have the best interest of the patient in mind.

Unfortunately, state lawmakers this week are holding a hearing on a piece of special interest legislation, Senate Bill 2, that would have the opposite effect and put patients across Michigan at risk.

The bill would greatly reduce the training requirements for those who diagnose and treat patients and for those who prescribe their medicine. It is a genuinely dangerous move that puts patient health—perhaps even patients’ lives—at risk by removing physicians from your health care team.

Today, Michigan families can count on a health care team with the training and expertise needed to treat illness and injury appropriately.

Physicians undergo a minimum of 11 years of education and training, while some train for up to 20 years, depending on their specialty. For the treatment and care provided by nurses, critical education is also needed, but many fewer years of medical education and training are required. For nurses with the most advanced training, six years of education are completed. Why would you want to eliminate the most-trained professionals from your health care team?

Of course, when a patient or one of our loved ones is confronted with an illness or an injury, that’s the last thing on their minds. Patients just want the best possible care and they rely on a health care team working together that they trust and that has the medical training needed to take care of them.

Senate Bill 2 would undermine that trust, using the Legislature to do an end-run around hundreds of years of medical science while declaring that patients simply don’t need the best trained health care providers on the team. The bill also fails to address medical liability issues for patients who are misdiagnosed or improperly treated as a result of the legislation.

The end result would be a health care system radically altered to put special interests above patient care and safety. That’s the wrong move for Michigan and it is a dangerous move for patients.

Patients have many remarkable advocates in the Legislature, including Oakland County’s own State Rep., Gail Haines, who routinely puts patients first as she chairs the House Health Policy Committee.

It is unfortunate that others in the Legislature are not as focused on the protecting and meeting the needs of Michigan patients.

We urge every Michigan lawmaker to remember what health care is really all about. We urge them to put patients first and to vote no on Senate Bill 2.

Rose Ramirez is a practicing physician in the Grand Rapids area.

James D. Grant is a practicing physician in Oakland County.