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October 21, 2009 > Washington Hospital's Quest for Quality Never Ends

Washington Hospital's Quest for Quality Never Ends

Hospitals throughout the country will be observing National Healthcare Quality Week, October 18 - 24, recognizing the importance of quality in health care. At Washington Hospital, though, every week is Quality Week.

"Improving the quality of health care is an ongoing process at Washington Hospital, driven by our unwavering commitment to provide the best possible care for our patients," says Stephanie Williams, RN, Chief of Quality and Resource Management. "This effort really does 'take a village' - from our board members, senior administrators and physicians on down to the people providing day-to-day care, including nurses, technicians and housekeepers. Everybody is involved. Everybody is focused on the goal of improving patients' outcomes."

As part of its commitment to quality, Washington Hospital continuously monitors its performance in each of the Core Performance Measures established by the Joint Commission, the nation's leading hospital accreditation organization. Each Core Performance Measure tracks a combination of evidenced-based procedures that have been shown to improve the quality of care for various categories of patients. Some of the Core Performance Measure categories include:

* Care for patients who are admitted with heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction), including administering aspirin upon arrival to all heart attack patients and ensuring that patients who require coronary angioplasty to open a blocked artery have the procedure done within 90 minutes of arrival at the hospital.

* Pneumonia care, including giving the Pneumococcal vaccine to all patients age 65 and older and administering an antibiotic to all pneumonia patients within four hours of arrival at the hospital.

* Delivery of care for patients with congestive heart failure, such as medications to improve blood flow and providing smoking cessation advice for patients with a history of smoking.

* Various measures to improve the quality of surgical care and reduce surgical infections and complications, based on the Surgical Care Improvement Project, including administering prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics prior to surgery, consistent with current guidelines.

"For the past three years, we have nearly always met or exceeded the national and state averages for all Core Performance Measures," Williams notes. "One reason for that success is that for every Core Measure, we have a 'physician champion' and a multidisciplinary group to oversee carrying out improvements. Our physicians have been actively involved in planning and implementing many key improvement initiatives."

In addition to tracking compliance with the Joint Commission's Core Performance Measures, Washington Hospital has been actively involved in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 100,00 Lives and 5 Million Lives Campaigns.

"The initiatives in the 100,000 Lives Campaign and the 5 Million Lives Campaign are proven, evidence-based best practices that we have integrated into our operations," Williams explains. "For example, we have effectively employed infection-control procedures to dramatically reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) infections, central line blood infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and catheter-associated infections.

"We're doing whatever is necessary to reduce infections, including ongoing efforts to educate staff, physicians, patients and visitors about the important issue of hand hygiene, which is the single most important defense against infection," she adds.

For the first time this year, Washington Hospital has issued an annual report on all its quality initiatives, "Quality Report 2009: Annual Report to the Community." Available online as a pdf file at www.whhs.com/about/quality-initiatives, the report illustrates Washington Hospital's various efforts to improve the quality of patient care. In addition, the same web page also provides links to videos of monthly quality reports presented by Williams at hospital board meetings.

"Our new annual report and monthly video reports show our commitment not only to quality care, but also to transparent communication to the community," Williams explains. "We encourage people in the community to be our partners in the effort to improve the quality of patient care. We invite you to ask questions and get involved in the quality of care at your community hospital."


Quality Report is Now Available

For the first time this year, Washington Hospital has issued an annual report on all its quality initiatives, "Quality Report 2009: Annual Report to the Community."

If you would like a copy of the Quality Report mailed to your home, please contact Washington Hospital's Community Relations Department at (510) 791-3417 or download a pdf copy of the report on our website: www.whhs.com/about/quality-initiatives. The report illustrates Washington Hospital's various efforts to improve the quality of patient care. In addition, the same web page also provides links to videos of monthly quality reports presented by Williams at hospital board meetings.

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