Froedtert Takes Aim at Patient Safety with the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Health Care
Milwaukee, WI (September 10, 2009) – As flu season concerns ramp up, Froedtert Hospital and seven other top hospitals and health systems in America announced an innovative project to use new methods to find the causes of and put a stop to dangerous and potentially deadly breakdowns in patient care. Teaming with The Joint Commission’s Center for Transforming Healthcare, Froedtert and its partner hospitals worked with the Center to tackle hand-washing failures that contribute to health care-associated infections, which are the fourth largest cause of death in the US. Good hand hygiene is cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a key action in stopping the spread of flu.
“Hand-washing in hospitals should become as automatic as looking both ways before crossing the street,” said William D. Petasnick, president and CEO of Froedtert Hospital. “As we achieve successful and sustainable progress in improving this long-standing issue, I’m confident hospitals can apply the same collaborative techniques and process improvement tools to other complex safety issues.”
Recognizing that there is no quick fix, Froedtert and the Center’s other participants set out to solve the problems—soap or alcohol-based hand rubs that are not convenient for caregivers to use, faulty data that lull facilities into thinking hand washing is occurring more frequently than it is, and lack of individual accountability—by using Robust Process Improvement™ tools. The use of these Six Sigma processes helped identify when and why hand-washing failures occur. When the hospitals applied these tools to address the problem, hand-washing compliance increased significantly.
The CDC estimates approximately 1.7 million new cases of infections are acquired by patients during their stay in hospitals every year. Although healthcare organizations and government agencies have developed numerous strategies over the years to battle these infections, studies have found that hand hygiene - the most basic, low-cost and low-technology infection prevention and control strategy – is not properly practiced by half of healthcare workers. The targeted solutions from the Center now being tested at Froedtert and other hospitals and health systems include making hand-washing a top priority for the hospital, clearly stating expectations, staff training, and always washing hands before entering and when coming out of a patient’s room.
In addition to Froedtert, other hospitals participating in the Center’s first project to make health care safer by being more reliable are Cedars-Sinai Health System, Los Angeles; Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Denver; The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Baltimore; Memorial Hermann Health Care System, Houston; Trinity Health, Novi, Michigan; Virtua, Marlton, New Jersey; and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winstom-Salem, North Carolina. The targeted solutions developed by these pioneering hospitals will be shared with the more than 16,000 health care organizations accredited by The Joint Commission.
“Froedtert Hospital has demonstrated tremendous courage and leadership by stepping up to reliably measure performance, identify causes and develop targeted solutions to a crucial patient safety problem facing all health care organizations,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., M.P.P., M.P.H., president, The Joint Commission. “Froedtert is making a public commitment to improving patient care by using a comprehensive system — the only way to truly make a lasting difference in safety.”