Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NH leads the way in New England

Our hospital neighbors to the north in New Hampshire have just taken a decisive step that presents a healthy challenge to the so-called "medical Mecca" in Massachusetts. Steve Ahnen at the New Hampshire Hospital Association writes to say:

Yesterday, we launched our initiative to eliminate harm in New Hampshire's hospitals by the year 2015. While we are proposing to eliminate all harm, our efforts will be clearly focused on those instances of harm that could be prevented if all of the evidence based practices had been followed that are known to prevent that harm.

This is such a terrific effort. It is putting a stake in the ground for our hospitals and they are excited and ready to move forward. We have lots to learn and hope to share that learning as we go.

You can find a copy of the press release here. Excerpts:

CONCORD – In a new effort to promote better and safer care to patients, the New Hampshire Hospital Association and Foundation for Healthy Communities have announced that hospitals across the state will strive to eliminate harm to patients by 2015. To accomplish this goal, hospitals will work together to consistently follow the processes of care that have been proven to increase patient safety.

“Hospitals in our state have made great strides in making improvements to quality of care,” said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association. “With this initiative, we’ll continue that work with an even more ambitious purpose and timeline.”

While there are no uniformly accepted definitions, “harm” in the Eliminate Harm Initiative refers to an injury associated with medical care that requires or prolongs hospitalization and/or results in permanent disability or death.

. . . Greg Walker, chairman of the Foundation for Healthy Communities and CEO of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover, said, “The boards of trustees of both the New Hampshire Hospital Association and Foundation for Healthy Communities unanimously passed a resolution to make this happen, and the CEOs of all 26 acute care hospitals are ready.”

A statewide steering committee will spearhead the N.H. Eliminate Harm Initiative and identify which aspects of harm hospitals will be targeted for elimination. Several hospitals are represented on that committee. Hospitals in New Hampshire already have been working for several years on improving patient care, including efforts to decrease infection rates through a campaign to promote hand washing among health care providers. Hospitals also are decreasing harm in the operating room by using a patient safety checklist before and during all procedures. Hospitals receive guidelines and tools that are used statewide to help them measure their progress.

“Our hospitals are poised to deliver the best health care in the country,” said Bruce King, immediate past chair of the NHHA board of trustees and CEO of New London Hospital. “The residents of New Hampshire are counting on us.”


Anonymous said...

I note this statement in the press release:

"Planning for the initiative began a year ago, when Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, was the keynote speaker at the New Hampshire Hospital Association annual meeting. Mr. Levy.....challenged the audience of New Hampshire health leaders....."

Perhaps if all the 26 hospitals in New Hampshire can listen and implement a cooperative program after only one speech, there remains some hope that Boston hospitals will listen after several years. Hubris is the enemy of quality patient care, particularly in the rapidly changing environment of today. Those of us outside of Boston are waiting for this 'medical mecca' to show some collaborative leadership in this area, no matter whose egos are involved.

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

Dr. Levy,

I read your blog all the time, but have not commented until now. You have finally touched on a subject to which I can respond. After spending a lot of time at BWH for a serious illness I have witnessed two serious medical errors that have threatened my life. One was caught by the hospital staff and one was caught by me. The error that was caught by me was very distressing. I was supposed to receive 8 mg of dilauded (hydromorphone) but the nurse handed me 16 mg. They were supposed to be 2mg pills but she gave me a handful of 4mg pills. Since I was alert enough at that time I noticed the pills looked different and questioned her. She responded that "yes, they didn't scan right on the computer and I thought that was strange". I responded that "you mean they did not look right to you before and yet you are giving them to me now". If I had not been alert enough I would have overdosed and went into respiratory failure. This made me realize it is up the the patients themselves to check on the nurses. I am sorry I did not report her (because she was "nice" and apologetic). But this was not personal and I really should have reported this to the head nurse or mentioned it to my doctor.
I sense that you are searching for ways to decrease medical mistakes. I think it should begin with informing patients that nurses and doctors are only human, overworked and hurried. It is up to the patient to double check what the nurse is doing, especially when it comes to meds. Give the patient the power and permission to question treatments and meds they are receiving.