CT hospitals tame infections with high-reliability strategies

Connecticut hospitals are training more than 10,000 employees in high-reliability strategies similar to those in aviation and nuclear power in an effort to help hospitals reduce statewide medical errors and improve patient safety and experience, the CT Mirror reported.

Aviation and nuclear power, fields where even small errors can have extreme consequences, are good examples of how systematic routines can help improve outcomes as fines and penalties for preventable errors and patient readmissions become an everyday reality.

John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington created a hospital campaign to reduce infections by standardizing procedures, examining mistakes and learning from those errors while creating a culture where anyone in the organization, from doctors to housekeepers, can speak up on behalf of the patients, according to the article.

Dempsey Hospital's daily "huddle"--where people from all over the hospital hear about problems and concerns from other parts of the facility--includes an update from the infectious diseases director on how many patients need to have their catheters removed that day, according to the article. Checklists and standardization helped reduce heart attack patients' wait times in the emergency room before they received a cardiac catheterization, by creating a uniform "tackle box" of supplies for staff, according to the article.

Hospitals around the region are following suit. "This is a whole new safety science," Setu Vora, M.D., medical director of critical care and performance improvement at Backus Hospital in Norwich, told the Mirror. "Instead of going from the idea that healthcare is a complex system and stuff happens, [it recognizes] that yes, it's a complex system, but by adopting certain safer behavior habits, we can minimize the serious safety events."

Hartford HealthCare system, which includes Backus, created a secret shopper program to rate hand-washing observation, then shared data with the staff and watched the number of employees change their behavior to follow hand-hygiene guidelines, Vora said.

Connecticut hospitals also instituted the "CHAMP" system as part of the high-reliability initiative, which stands for: Communicate clearly, hand off effectively, attention to detail, mentoring each other, practice and accept a questioning attitude.

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