Thursday, September 28, 2006

Going in Circles? Sometimes it helps

“Life comes at you fast” is the slogan for the latest ad campaign for Nationwide Insurance. It might just as well be the motto for beleaguered hospital caregivers everywhere.

New National Patient Safety Goals. A new nationwide survey of the patient experience. Hospital quaolity report cards. It’s all here. It’s all an important part of hospital life. And it’s coming at us fast.

In an presentation to the Backus Board of Trustees this past Monday, Peter Shea, MD Backus Medical Director, began by making a critical point: These aren’t separate,
disconnected items. In fact, they are all part and parcel of the same thing.

It makes sense, when you put the patient at the center.

Let’s take just one example -- but an important one. No one would deny that medications are an important part of the patient experience, that preventing drug-dispensing errors is a key safety measure, and that the timely dispensing of life-saving meds to patients who present with heart attack symptoms is a quality metric. It would be easy to compartmentalize this into three separate “things to do”:

Patient Safety Goal number 8-B from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
• Quality Measures number 1 through 5 as collected by the government and reported on the "Hospital Compare” website
• Patient experience questions number 15 through 17 of the new HCAHPS survey, which begins Sunday, Oct. 1.

It’s better, said Dr. Shea, to consider this as one important area of patient-centered care that’s measured in three different ways. “Put the patient at the center, and the circle goes around,” he said. “Good quality promotes a culture of safety that leads to patients who always have a good experience. It’s simply good healthcare.”


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