BY KRISTA CONGER
Three years ago, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital identified improvements in patient safety as a top priority, and that focus is paying off. The hospital was just named the recipient of the new Excellence in Patient Safety & Health-Care Quality Award—the fifth award in two years to recognize its commitment to patient safety.
Patient safety emerged as a national issue after a 1999 Institute of Medicine report stated that 98,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors made in hospitals. As a result, hospitals, nonprofit agencies, regulatory agencies and insurers have joined together to decrease such adverse events.
Packard Children’s and the 21 other recipients of this most recent award were picked by California’s four biggest health-care plans: Aetna, Blue Shield of California, CIGNA HealthCare of California and UnitedHealthcare. The winners were selected based on their performance in four main areas of patient care and safety:
Whether the hospitals use computers to enter physicians’ drug orders
Whether the hospitals meet volume, process and outcome criteria for certain surgeries or conditions
Whether the hospitals staff their intensive care units with physicians certified in critical care medicine
The hospitals’ scores on a safe practices survey, which rates their performance on an additional 27 practices aimed at reducing preventable medical mistakes.
In that last category, Packard Children’s had a perfect score, making it first of the 858 participating hospitals, including 26 other children’s hospitals.
“The world-class culture of safety promoted by the leadership of Packard Children’s benefits patients and staff alike,” said the hospital’s Chief Clinical Patient Safety Officer Paul Sharek, MD. “Other children’s hospitals are turning to us to learn how to effectively implement best practices as soon as they’re identified.”
For example, after winning the 2005 Race for Results Award from the Child Health Corporation of America—for a program that significantly reduced the already low number of adverse drug events at the hospital over a two-year period—hospital officials were featured speakers at the CHCA’s annual meeting. Another honor for the hospital was its perfect score on a survey by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations that heavily emphasized patient safety. It also received first place in a competition for best patient safety research project, and last year was named an an “honor roll hospital” by the managed care company Health Net for its data related to quality and patient safety data.
“We are absolutely determined to provide the very best care for our patients,” said hospital CEO Christopher Dawes. “We supplement the skills of our world-class physicians and nurses with proven ways to reduce or eliminate medical errors and implement best practices.”