William D. PetasnickPresident and CEO, Froedtert Hospital
Five years ago, the Institute of Medicine galvanized the U.S. public and medical community with To Err is Human, its report on medical errors. The now-famous finding, that from 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year due to medical mistakes, put the quality and patient safety agenda on everyone's front burner. For our organization, this report became a clarion call to action.
A recent publication supported by the Commonwealth Fund, noted, "the problem of medical errors has swelled" as technological and medical progress has created a more specialized, complex environment within and outside the hospital.
With all the focus on patient safety, are we making headway? Yes, but we have a long way to go. In Wisconsin, there is progress. The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, (Froedtert Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin were founding members) is gaining traction as more members share data and make significant improvements in quality and patient safety. More Wisconsin hospitals are investing in information technology to create an electronic medical record that will greatly reduce the likelihood of medical errors.
Recently, Froedtert, partnering with the Fox Cities' ThedaCare and Bellin Hospital in Green Bay, created a first-of-its kind partnership among independent health systems with the "Virtual ICU," or EICU. The EICU will enhance intensive care through remote electronic monitoring by intensivists — board certified physicians trained to treat critically ill patients. EICU technology connects sophisticated telemetry with specialty care delivered by critical care nurses and physicians at several hospitals. It is also a "second set of eyes" at the bedside, providing access to more expertise, particularly during night and holiday hours. The EICU is a perfect example of collaboration that improves quality of care within our communities.
George Lynn, chair of the American Hospital Association, says "it is the work we do, not the business we're in" that must guide us in our actions. The work we do provides the highest quality of care to our patients and improves the health status of the communities we serve.
We have an unwavering commitment to quality by focusing on improving safety and effectiveness, reducing waste and providing consistently timely and equitable care. We will achieve major gains in these areas over the next five years. For our patients, achieving our goals will mean care that is safer, more reliable, more responsive to their needs, more integrated and more available.
That is our commitment to you. Thank you for your support and the opportunity to serve you. May 2006 be a year of health and joy for our community.
Source: Froedtert today
Date: December 2005