Dignity Health’s St. Mary Medical Center Reduces Complications, Gains Positive Results For Thousands of Patients

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Dignity Health, one of the five largest health systems in the nation, recently announced in two years it has reduced hospital-acquired infections and readmissions, positively affecting more than 10,000 patients and potentially saving an estimated $30 million as a result of efforts across the health system from Jan. 2012 through Dec. 2013.

During the period of evaluation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), St. Mary Medical Center of Long Beach reduced to zero the number of catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line associated blood stream infections, falls, early elective deliveries, surgical site infections, and ventilator associated pneumonia.

“Dignity Health, in collaboration with our clinical staff and medical leadership, has adopted and effectively implemented evidence-based practice protocols for each of these metrics, which contributed to this outstanding achievement. Quality patient care and safety are part and parcel of our daily operations. Patients first, quality always,” said Ardel Guillamas Avelino, Associate Hospital Administrator.

In recognition of the health system’s ongoing successes, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services named Dignity Health as one of its Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Networks for a third consecutive year to continue implementing changes that improve patient care. The Hospital Engagement Networks, formed by the federal Partnership for Patients initiative and made possible by the Affordable Care Act, is making significant strides towards better patient care at an affordable cost.

As one of 26 hospital organizations and associations that comprise the national Hospital Engagement Network, Dignity Health focused on providing better quality care across 10 patient safety areas that were identified through the partnership. Dignity Health is committed to every initiative across all its hospitals, including seven new measures just launched in January this year. The efforts implemented across Dignity Health hospitals reveal that the organization has reached its goal of improving patient care in six out of the 10 patient safety areas before the three year target date.

Best Practices Add Up to Big Results
Dignity Health is narrowing in on its overall goal of reducing the rate of hospital-acquired infections by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent before 2015. To achieve this goal, the hospital system introduced specific evidence-based practices and bedside intervention activities, called MeasureVention, to evaluate full adoption of safe preventive practices and assure coordination of care at the bedside with clinicians, including physicians.

Best practices deployed system wide ensured procedures were conducted as routinely and as safely as possible. For example, nurses and doctors only inserted catheters if absolutely necessary, changing the previously presumed notion that catheters were innocuous, which led to a large decrease in urinary tract infections. Insulin treatments were given to patients at specific times in relation to their meals lowering the overall hypoglycemic rate.

Dignity Health also enlisted the help of MeasureVentionists, nurses that have been through specialized training programs to examine current patients’ conditions, and measure their risk for infection and readmission. Through their work, MeasureVentionists were able to assess and document whether protocols were being followed ultimately, raising the bar of patient care across the system.

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