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April 11, 2014

A nurse training regimen saved Dignity Health $30 million

Daily Briefing

Dignity Health saved an estimated $30 million in two years through a training regimen for nurses that focused on preventing avoidable patient harm, such as hospital-acquired infections and patient falls.

Dignity Health as a quality leader

The health system has been on a larger push for quality improvement, Infection Control Today notes. HHS recently named Dignity Health as one of its Partnership for Patients (PFP) Hospital Engagement Networks for the third consecutive year in recognition of the health system's strides towards reducing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and readmissions.

HHS launched the $1 billion public-private collaboration in 2011 to reduce preventable injuries by 40% and cut hospital readmissions by 20% by 2013. That same year, PFP launched a $218 million initiative to help hospitals identify and spread ideas to improve patient care and reduce hospital-acquired infections. The initiative currently involves more than 3,700 hospitals, led by 26 "hospital engagement networks."

Partnership for Patients reports safety improvements

According to Infection Control Today, Dignity Health has reached its goal of improving patient care in six out of the 10 patient safety areas identified by the partnership—one year before the three-year target. In just two years, Dignity Health reduced HAIs and readmissions, affecting more than 10,000 patients and potentially saving an estimated $30 million as a result of its efforts.

How Dignity Health curbed HAIs, readmissions

Dignity Health is nearing its goal of reducing the rate of HAIs by 40% and readmissions by 20% before 2015. To achieve this feat, the health system introduced evidence-based practices and bedside interventions, called MeasureVention, to assess the adoption of safe preventive measures and ensure care coordination at the patient's bedside.

Meet Lloyd Dean: Dignity's CEO talks about the system's strategy

MeasureVentionists—nurses that have undergone specialized training programs to examine patients' conditions and risk for infection and readmission—assessed and documented whether protocols were being followed, which increased adherence to new protocols by hospital staff. Among the best practices that were deployed system wide:

  • Nurses and doctors only inserted catheters if absolutely necessary, which led to a 45% reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections;
  • Nurses used alcohol-impregnated disinfection caps and new insertion practices when inserting central lines, which led to a 34% decline in central line-associated bloodstream infections;
  • Insulin treatments were administered to patients at specific times on the basis of when they ate their meals, which led to a 65% reduction in the hypoglycemic rate; and
  • Enhanced wound assessments, risk assessments, and improved equipment and documentation led to a 50% decline in hospital-acquired pressure ulcers.

Overall, the new practices helped to reduce readmissions by 9%, with an estimated positive impact on 2,000 patients, Infection Control Today notes.

"The goals of [PFP] align with Dignity Health's mission and longstanding commitment to making hospital care safer, more reliable, and less costly," says Barbara Pelletreau, senior vice president of patient safety, adding, "Through enhanced collaboration and coordination among our staff, we're seeing great results, and even more importantly, we've improved how care is delivered at Dignity Health hospitals" (Infection Control Today, 4/10).

More on Preventing Avoidable Patient Harm

For more ways to prevent avoidable patient harm, don't miss these resources from the Nursing Executive Center:

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