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For Release: December 16, 2011
Contact: Rick Adams (603) 653-1913 clarence.r.adams@hitchcock.org

Dartmouth-Hitchcock among seven leading health systems contracted to improve hospital patient safety nationally

Lebanon, NH—Dartmouth-Hitchcock is among a group of seven health systems contracted to develop and share a national learning experience, which will be accessible to all interested U.S. hospitals. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services awarded the $2.7 million contract as part of its Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Networks initiative. The aim is to make healthcare safer and less costly by targeting and reducing preventable injuries and complications to patients.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock joins Intermountain Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, Baylor Health Care System, Denver Health, Providence Health & Services, and the Salt Lake City Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in the initiative. These organizations represent 93 hospitals and 16 states. The group is actively recruiting hospitals for the training, which allows for 1,500 hospitals to participate during the three-year contract period.

The full Partnership for Patients initiative, which provides a total of $218 million to 26 health care organizations around the country, was announced Dec. 14 by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

"Improving patient safety and continuous process improvement are among our highest priorities," said George T. Blike, MD, quality and patient safety officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. "We've learned much through our ongoing quality and safety efforts, and we look forward to sharing our experiences. But more importantly, we are excited about the opportunity to learn even more from our colleagues in this collaborative as we work to ensure the highest-quality care for our patients."

Medical errors, in addition to the harm they cause to patients, are expensive. In fact, the Institute of Medicine has estimated that they cost $17 billion to $29 billion per year.

For example, one of the common, preventable causes of harm to patients during hospitalization is adverse drug events (ADE). They result in more than 770,000 injuries and deaths each year and cost up to $5.6 million per hospital. Nationally, ADEs are estimated to cost hospitals between $1.56 and $5.6 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This initiative allows the contracted health systems--selected because of their previous work in decreasing adverse medical events--to become teaching centers for interested hospitals to learn and develop the best methods for improving quality and value of healthcare. Training activities and improvement projects will address targeted adverse medical events and general strategies for harm reduction. Each contracted hospital will mentor and teach according to its specific expertise.

The teaching organizations will provide technical assistance and direct support to participating hospitals. And, improvement measures for each project will be set and monitored. Research infrastructure support will be given by the University of Utah's Center for Clinical Translation Science to measure and manage the targeted measures for quality improvement. The project is designed to reduce preventable inpatient harm by 40 percent and hospital readmissions by 20 percent over a three year period.

The 10 targeted medical areas for the project are the following:

  • Adverse drug events
  • Catheter-associated blood stream infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Venous thrombo-embolism
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections
  • Preventable readmissions
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Obstetrical Trauma
  • Patient Falls and Immobility

"By collaborating together and sharing the most effective medical care models, we can offer specific training and mentoring opportunities for hospitals created by hospitals," said Lucy Savitz, PhD, director of research and education of Intermountain Healthcare's Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research. "The teaching and support will come from those who are national leaders in the targeted area. As we focus on quality and patient safety, thousands of patients will benefit and unnecessary costs will be reduced."

-DMS-

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