How a pediatric hospital collaborative transformed patient safety

As hospitals nationwide work to improve patient safety and avert federal penalties for hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), children's hospitals have made some of the most significant progress, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In January 2009, Ohio's eight children's hospitals formed the Ohio Children's Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety Network with state business leaders and Cardinal Health Foundation, with the goal of eliminating serious patient harms in all of the facilities. Their strategy scrapped the traditional patient safety framework entirely and replaced it with three new principles:

  • Full transparency for safety-related data-sharing
  • No competition on patient safety
  • An "all teach, all learn" model

The network improved outcomes in Ohio drastically its first two years, and expanded nationwide, bringing in 25 more hospitals that year. The partnership, now called SPS, has since grown to 88 providers--nearly every children's hospital in the nation, according to columnist Elaine Cox, M.D., medical director of infection prevention at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, an SPS member.

SPS' work to improve patient safety emphasizes two major strategies. The first is to reduce HACs. The collaborative's work in this area employs the "bundled" concept, or a series of small-scale interventions that, combined, reduce multiple common harms, such as infections, adverse drug events and falls.

The second strategy is to create a culture of safety that goes beyond bedside care, using strategies such as error-prevention classes, according to Cox. As a result of these strategies, HAC incidence fell between 1 percent and 81 percent, saving more than $79 million and averting harm for 3,699 patients.

Moving forward, one of SPS' primary goals is to identify its highest performers' best practices and work to apply them across the board. This year, it also plans to cut readmissions by 10 percent and serious safety events by 25 percent, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

"We aren't out to compete in patient safety," Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children's Hospital Association, told FierceHealthcare in February. "We aim to learn from one another. Everyone is a teacher, everyone is a student."

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