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Second Annual Quality Report Reflects Hospital's Dedication to Improving Care and Safety

June 15, 2010

In the past year, the subject of healthcare reform has been a major focus for nearly everyone in America. Much of the discussion has centered on improving access to care and controlling costs. Another aspect of healthcare that is just as important, but often receives less attention, is quality.

Washington Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care in the safest possible environment for every patient. As part of its emphasis on quality, the Hospital publishes an Annual Quality Report to the Community. Washington issued its first Quality Report last year, and the second issue will soon be released, reporting on its efforts to improve quality and safety during 2009.

"The community looks to our Hospital to provide safe, high quality care at all times," says Stephanie Williams, RN, Washington’s chief of quality and resource management. "Meeting this standard requires constant attention, a dedication to evidence-based practices, and hard work by everyone at Washington. Our Second Annual Quality Report shows the progress we have made and gives an excellent synopsis of our challenges and achievements."

Monitoring the results of safety and quality initiatives and measuring them against statewide and national benchmarks are critical to the effectiveness of a hospital’s efforts to improve care. Washington is meticulous about tracking and reporting its work. The Report contains charts and graphs, giving the reader a better understanding of the Hospital’s safety and quality efforts. You can learn further details about many of Washington’s quality initiatives by visiting the Hospital’s web site at www.whhs.com/quality

Keeping patients safe

Washington Hospital collaborates with leading health care quality organizations throughout the country, including The Joint Commission and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, to develop and monitor many of its quality and safety improvement strategies. The Hospital works hard to comply with nationally accepted recommendations and guidelines, such as The Joint Commission’s annual list of National Patient Safety Goals. Many of these safety initiatives are outlined in the Quality Report.

For example, infection prevention is high on the list of goals and a top priority at Washington Hospital. The Report describes the Hospital’s multifaceted effort to prevent the spread of infection, including a major focus on hand hygiene, identified as the most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. The Report also covers the Hospital’s comprehensive work to prevent patient falls. Washington was an early adopter of falls prevention strategies and has experienced far fewer patient falls than the national benchmark for the past three years.

Another National Patient Safety Goal is good communication, including the exchange of information between caregivers and between patients, families and caregivers. Washington has mounted a concerted effort to improve communication within the Hospital. Because patients and family members are also key members of the patient care team, they are encouraged to ask questions and call on the Hospital’s Rapid Response Team if the patient’s condition seems to deteriorate.

The goal of safe medication use is also critical to patient safety. The Report describes Washington’s innovative approach to achieving this goal by developing its own computer software application that compiles a list of home medications when a patient is admitted, updates and maintains the list during the patient’s hospitalization, and provides the patient with an accurate, comprehensive list, including instructions and prescriptions, upon discharge.

Ensuring quality care

Many of Washington Hospital’s quality initiatives are based on a list of Core Performance Measures identified by The Joint Commission and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. When implemented, these measures have been shown to improve the quality of care patients receive.

As explained in the Report, these measures track critical aspects of care for a majority of the Hospital’s patients, including those with heart attacks, pneumonia and heart failure, as well as patients who undergo surgery. The Hospital’s performance in providing this care is also compared to state and national benchmarks. The Report also highlights Washington’s work in other quality-related areas, including managing severe sepsis, preventing hospital-acquired infections and avoiding pressure ulcers.

The role of nursing

Excellent nursing care is fundamental to ensuring safe, high quality care, and Washington is committed to having the best trained and most experienced nurses on its staff. The Report details the level of expertise of the Hospital’s nursing staff and gives an update on the its continuing journey to achieve Nursing Magnet Status, a prestigious designation for nursing excellence awarded to only a small percentage of hospitals.

Washington has embarked on another approach to increasing nursing excellence and quality care through nursing research initiatives. Many of the Hospital’s nurses went through specialized training to learn how to develop and carry out evidence-based projects, which they then conducted on their own units. Many of these efforts have led to practice improvements that mean better quality care for patients, and some are described in the Report.

Other quality-related features included in the Report are Washington’s successful Hospitalist programs, the role of patient satisfaction surveys in helping to improve care, and the Hospital’s clinical research into new technologies that contribute to quality.

In addition to working for the best health outcomes for its patients, Washington Hospital also believes its quality efforts can help raise the standard of care for health providers and patients everywhere. To this end, Washington collaborates and shares information with other hospitals and health care quality improvement organizations in the region, as well as statewide, nationally and even internationally.

Washington was the only community hospital to be invited to present its sepsis initiative at last fall’s International Sepsis Forum in the Netherlands. It has also shared the results of other quality and safety initiatives at conferences of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Beacon Collaborative, an organization that works with hospitals throughout the region to achieve better quality patient care. Several of Washington’s successful quality and safety projects have also been reported in professional journals.

Finally, the Quality Report describes many of Washington Hospital’s programs and services that have been certified or commended for excellence in the past year. They include the Breast Health Program, Stroke Program, Diabetes Program, Center for Joint Replacement and Community Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Program.

"At Washington Hospital, our pursuit of the highest quality, safest care is a never-ending process requiring us to continually analyze and improve all aspects of the way we provide care," explains Kris LaVoy, RN, Washington Hospital’s chief of compliance and patient safety officer. "We are excited and enthusiastic about these efforts because we continue to see results in the form of better health outcomes for our patients and the entire community."

Read the Quality Report Online
Visit www.whhs.com/quality to download a pdf copy of Washington Hospital's 2010 Annual Quality Report. The website also provides links to videos of monthly quality reports that are presented at hospital board meetings. To ryou can also request a free copy of the 2010 Annual Quality Report to the Community by calling the Hospital’s Community Relations Department at (510) 791-3417.