Health and Human Services, Advertising Council launch awareness campaign

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The Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has partnered with the Advertising Council to create national public service announcements designed to encourage adults to take a more active role in their health care.

According to the Institute of Medicine, medical mistakes occurring in hospitals account for an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 deaths each year or a minimum of 120 deaths a day - more deaths caused by automobile accidents, AIDS or breast cancer.

Research conducted by the AHRQ shows that consumers who get more involved with their health care can greatly improve the safety of their care, but patients are generally unaware of what to do to help prevent medical mistakes.

The campaign, titled "Questions Are the Answer: Get More Involved With Your Health Care," features PSAs, which were created pro bono by advertising agency McCann Erickson Detroit.

The PSAs encourage patients and caregivers to become more active in their health care by asking questions. They include new television, radio, print and Web advertising that direct audiences to call a toll-free number (1-800-931-AHRQ) and to visit the complementing Web site at www.ahrq.gov/questionsaretheanswer.

The Web site includes tips on how to prevent medical mistakes and an interactive "Question Builder" that allows consumers to generate a customized list of questions for their health care providers that they can bring to each medical appointment.

The PSAs have been distributed to 28,000 media stations nationwide. Another campaign created specifically for the Hispanic community will launch later this year.

All of the new PSAs will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.

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