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Washington Hospitalís Third Annual Report on Quality Now Available

January 31, 2012

Quality means different things to different people, but most agree it is associated with excellence and high standards. Washington Hospital has a long history of commitment to improving the quality of health care it provides in our community.

In recent years, the Hospital has refocused its efforts, taking a more analytical, results-oriented approach to quality improvement. Staff and physicians consider the best available scientific evidence in making decisions about patient care. They also meticulously monitor and measure the results of what they do. With this approach, Washington Hospital has achieved notable improvements in patient experience and outcomes.

The Hospital has just issued its third Annual Quality Report to the Community, Quality that Reflects Caring, presenting the results of its quality improvement efforts from July 2010 to July 2011. The work is based on a set of quality goals selected annually by the Hospital’s Quality Steering Council, chaired by local cardiologist William F. Nicholson, MD.

The report describes the results of initiatives undertaken by the Hospital’s staff and physicians to improve patient care. Charts and graphs are included, comparing Washington Hospital’s performance with national and statewide standards over time. Also highlighted are a select number of Hospital programs that have recently demonstrated high standards of quality in meeting the health care needs of the community. For a free copy of the 2011 Quality Report, call the Washington Hospital Community Relations Department at (510) 791-3417.

Focus on nursing
Quality of nursing care is a top priority at Washington Hospital, and the report begins by announcing the Hospital’s recent achievement of Magnet status by the Magnet Recognition Program for Excellence in Nursing of the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The highest level of recognition a hospital can earn for quality of nursing care, this designation has been awarded to only five hospitals in the Bay Area and 24 in California.

The report also highlights other factors contributing to nursing excellence at Washington Hospital, including the high number of registered nurses who hold advanced academic degrees in direct care nursing. Charts present the Hospital’s excellent performance compared to national standards for specific nursing-sensitive indicators that affect quality of patient care, such as rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and pressure ulcers.

Safety is critical
Ensuring the safety of patients is an integral part of quality health care, and the report describes the progress of several safety initiatives launched by Washington Hospital over the last few years. With medication errors continuing to be a major source of patient harm in hospitals across the country, Washington Hospital has maintained its aggressive approach to safe medication use. The Hospital has extended its use of the medication reconciliation software application developed by its staff.
In addition to ensuring medication accuracy, the program helps to educate patients about how to take their medications once they return home.

The Hospital has also increased the use of safety-boosting technologies, such as smart pumps for intravenous infusion, and an automated medication dispensing and inventory control system. To implement and track several of its initiatives, the Hospital has worked closely with the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, the nation’s only nonprofit organization devoted to medication error prevention.

Since 2005, Washington Hospital has worked aggressively to keep patients safe from the risk of falling and is recognized nationally for its highly successful falls prevention initiative. According to the Quality Report, for the past four years, the Hospital has maintained a rate of patient falls well below the nationwide benchmark recommended by the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes (CalNOC).

Preventing infection and keeping antibiotics effective
Washington Hospital’s dedicated Infection Control program has enabled the Hospital to maintain an infection rate substantially lower than national targets. Led by infectious disease specialist Dianne Martin, MD, and specially trained nurses, the program has aimed to prevent the spread of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is highly resistant to antibiotics. Strategies highlighted in the report include aggressive programs of hand hygiene, screening, equipment cleaning, isolation, and use of sterile gloves. New guidelines followed in the Hospital’s operating rooms have also helped to lower the number of surgical site infections.

With antibiotic resistance and untreatable infections becoming a growing problem across the country, Washington Hospital is committed to prudent antibiotic use to maintain their effectiveness. The report shows how the Hospital achieved a significant drop in the number of patients with Clostridium difficile (C-difficile), a highly contagious, potentially life-threatening infection often seen in hospitals.

Measuring the quality of patient care

Washington Hospital consistently monitors and evaluates key factors in treating patients with conditions that account for the majority of hospitalizations in the U.S.  These include heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia, as well as preventing surgical infections. The report presents results of the Hospital’s performance in in treating these conditions, according to a group of Core Measures set by The Joint Commission and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Graphs indicate levels achieved in 2009 and 2010, with comparisons to state and national benchmarks.

Quality services

Washington Hospital has combined an extensive investment in advanced technology with the considerable skill and talents of its staff and the physicians to offer our community a growing array of high quality programs to meet its health care needs. The report features some recent, notable developments in services, including the Lymphedema Clinic, Emergency Department, Community Cancer Program, Breast Health Program, Stroke Program, and Washington on Wheels (W.O.W.) mobile health clinic.

Learn more
In addition to reading the 2011 Annual Quality Report to the Community, you can learn more about these programs and many other quality and safety initiatives at Washington Hospital by visiting the Hospital’s Web site at www.whhs.com/quality.