How to Boost Your Patient Safety Program Results

May 25, 2016


Patient Safety

How can you focus your patient safety efforts to maximize results? Healthgrades’ 2016 patient safety analysis reveals some helpful hints.

4 Patient Safety Events Dominate: Just four types of patient safety events make up nearly 75% of all those reported. They are:

  • Accidental cut, puncture, or hemorrhage (25%)
  • Collapsed lung (23.8%)
  • Infections (17.2%)
  • Bed sores (7.8%)

So concentrating your safety efforts on preventing this handful of patient safety threats should reap significant improvements in your overall rate of patient safety events. We know that patient safety can save lives. In fact, if all hospitals performed to the level of Healthgrades 2016 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients, over 270,000 patient safety events—and the consequent morbidity and mortality—could have been avoided.

The Safety Event/Service Line Relationship: Each of the major patient safety events happens most frequently in specific service lines or conditions. Cuts, punctures, and hemorrhages occur most often during bowel obstruction, small intestine, and colorectal surgeries. Collapsed lung tends to occur during cardiac procedures like pacemaker implantation. Infections most often occur following coronary bypass surgery. Finally, bedsores cluster around hip fracture repairs and sepsis.

These findings mean you can create specialized patient safety programs for a few specific service lines. For example, train your GI surgery teams on safety measures to prevent cuts, punctures, and hemorrhages. This effort alone can affect nearly a quarter of your overall patient safety events. Emphasize collapsed lung and infection prophylaxis with your cardiac teams. Starting with collapsed lung avoidance, in combination with your GI surgery cuts and punctures program, could impact nearly half of your total patient safety events. Finally, concentrate on bedsore prevention for patients who have broken their hip or developed sepsis.

Patient Safety and Quality Performance Are Linked: Not surprisingly, hospitals that excel at patient safety also deliver higher-quality outcomes—namely, lower risk-adjusted complication and mortality rates. When your patients experience fewer safety events, they are more likely to emerge alive and well from their hospital stay.

The 2016 Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients always meet or exceed the outcomes of their lower-performing peers in patient safety. Robust patient safety results are strongly associated with high-quality care outcomes, especially in spine surgery—where hospitals are over five times as likely to have superior outcomes. Excellent patient safety generates a 3.4x likelihood of exceptional outcomes in orthopedics, 2.3x in pulmonary care, 2.1x in vascular surgery, and 2x in cardiac surgery and critical care.

When does 4 x 4 = 75? When you combine a focus on 4 patient safety events, within 4 service lines and specialties (GI surgery, cardiac surgery, hip fracture surgery, and critical care), and impact nearly 75% of patient safety events. Maximize your patient safety results by narrowing your focus.

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