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Ascension Health Chosen to Further Expand Patient Safety and Quality Efforts

October 10, 2013
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(St. Louis) October 10, 2013 — Ascension Health’s Hospital Engagement Network has been awarded new funding from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to further expand its work to enhance clinical quality and patient safety.

The Ascension Health Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) competed successfully as a hospital engagement network in the federal Partnership for Patients program to be chosen for this work.  The award was made on September 26, 2013. Ascension Health is one of six HENs across the country selected to receive the funding, which is designated for leading edge advanced practice topics.  The $14.5 million in new funding will allow Ascension Health and its hospitals to create and test strategies to measure and improve outcomes for patients.  Specifically, Ascension Health’s hospitals will develop and share with other hospitals around the country significant advances in ten areas, including:

  • Severe sepsis (a rapid onset of organ dysfunction caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection) and septic shock (a form of severe sepsis accompanied by a life-threatening decrease in blood pressure).
  • Clostridium difficile (C.diff), a bacterial infection that can be acquired during hospitalization and after treatment of an unrelated infection with antibiotics. C.diff infection leads to a wide range of symptoms from diarrhea to life-threatening colon inflammation, and primarily occurs in older adults in hospitals.
  • Iatrogenic delirium, a rapid decline in cognitive function, which results in temporary, but severe confusion and disorientation as a result of medical treatment.
  • Creating a hospital culture of safety that fully integrates patient and worker safety.
  • Safe patient handling and mobility.  Healthcare workers suffer a higher rate of musculoskeletal disorders than construction, mining or manufacturing workers.  The majority of injuries can be attributed to overexertion related to repeated transfer, repositioning and ambulation of patients.
  • Hospital-acquired acute renal (kidney) failure.
  • Undue exposure to radiation, in light of the introduction of more sophisticated CT scanning technology and nuclear medicine modalities that has led to a greater cumulative radiation exposure in patients.
  • Transformation of home health care models to reduce unnecessary hospital and emergency department visits.

Funding also will be used to analyze preventable events that can cause harm to patients, and to develop cost savings calculations for multiple focus areas using hospitals’ actual cost and volume data rather than projections. Using actual cost and volume data will allow hospitals to more objectively quantify the impact and savings associated with particular quality and safety interventions.

The Partnership for Patients program was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011 to help improve the quality, safety and affordability of healthcare for all Americans with the goal to:

  • Decrease preventable hospital acquired conditions by 40 percent.
  • Decrease hospital readmissions by 20 percent.

As one of 26 Partnership for Patients HENs, Ascension Health and its hospitals have identified, documented, refined and shared best practices to eliminate:

  • Adverse drug events (ADE)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI)
  • Central-line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI)
  • Injuries from falls and immobility
  • Obstetrical adverse events, including Early Elective Deliveries
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Readmissions
  • Surgical site infections
  • Venous thromboembolism (VTE)
  • Ventilator-associated events (VAE)

Of the six leading edge advanced practice topic recipient HENs, two are healthcare systems – Ascension Health and Carolinas HealthCare System – and Ascension Health is the only Catholic health system funding recipient.

“Being selected for this initiative is a testament to the extensive efforts that Ascension Health and its more than 80 acute care hospitals have undertaken over the last several years in support of enhanced clinical quality, patient safety and the development of a culture of high reliability,” said Ann Hendrich, RN, Ph.D., F.A.A.N., Ascension Health’s Senior Vice President, Chief Clinical Quality/Safety and Nursing Officer.  “Consistent with our Mission, participation in this effort will help ensure that Ascension Health’s hospitals will continue to be leaders in delivering person-centered, holistic care to those we are privileged to serve.” 

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