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HHS seeks to reduce preterm births with $40m grant incentive

Last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a $40 million effort to reduce preterm births and ensure more babies are born healthy. Through a program called the Strong Start initiative, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will seek to reduce preterm births by awarding grants to hospitals, healthcare providers, and community coalitions to improve prenatal care, test new methods to reverse the trend, and reduce early elective deliveries.

According to HHS, about 10 percent of all deliveries are scheduled—either as induced or Cesarean-section— before 39 weeks and are not medically indicated.

Testing for early induction of labor is addressed in the Joint Commission’s latest National Patient Safety Goal aimed at minimizing overuse of tests, treatments, and procedures in hopes to prevent harm and reduce waste. The idea is that if evidence shows no benefit, you are exposing a patient to only potential harm by giving an unnecessary test or treatment.

In fact, evidence shows the opposite. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says preterm babies (those born before 39 weeks) are at an increased risk of significant complications such as low birth weight, lung disorders, feeding problems, and blood infections, as well as long-term health problems, and an article released by Kaiser Health News said Medicaid spends $20,000 a year on babies born premature in their first year, almost 10 times that of infants born at full term.

A report by HealthLeader’s Media says reducing early elective births could save $1 billion annually, and according to a survey by The Leapfrog Group, of the 757 hospitals that volunteer to report data on obstetric care quality, too many have obstetricians who still schedule potentially harmful elective Cesareans and inductions too early rather than supporting unprompted deliveries.

To learn more about the effort to reduce preterm births, visit the CMS Innovation website.

Joint Commission releases Easy-to-Read 2012 NPSGs

Earlier this week The Joint Commission released the National Patient Safety Goals (NPSGs) for 2012 in an easy-to-read version. Goals for 2012 include identifying patients correctly, improving staff communication, using medications safely, preventing infections, identifying patient safety risks, and preventing mistakes in surgery.

Click on the program links below to view/download the 2012 NPSGs.

For more information, visit The Joint Commission Website.

Joint Commission says 2010 NPSGs to be published in October

In its June issue of The Joint Commissions Perspectives, the official newsletter of The Joint Commission, the accrediting body says that it will not publish its National Patient Safety Goals applicable for January 2010 until its October issue of Perspectives. Although the NPSGs applicable for January of the following year are usually published in the July issue of Perspectives of the prior year, the NPSGs are currently undergoing a field review that will result in significant revisions. The review is not expected to be completed until early summer 2009.

The Joint Commission has stated that no new NPSGs will be released for 2010, only modifications to existing NPSGs. It is also asking for comment from the field about the proposed set of NPSGs. You can comment on its Web site through June 23.

Does this timeline affect your survey preparation schedule? Hopefully this time will be used well to create a less cumbersome set of requirements that still focuses on key patient safety issues.

Joint Commission releases FAQ on NPSG.01.01.01

I just wanted to let everyone know The Joint Commission has released an FAQ on National Patient Safety Goal NPSG.01.01.01. The FAQ looks at whether there are any exceptions for active involvement of the patient or responsible caregiver.

The FAQ specifically looks at sleeping patients and the nurse’s role in identifying non-communicative or confused patients when another healthcare worker uses two patient identifiers. The Joint Commission states that the purpose behind this is to increase patient safety through such things as medication, diagnostic, and treatment errors. The organization must decide how to assess sleeping/non-communicative/confused patients. The organization must also determine when active involvement is necessary on the part of the responsible nurse or other caregiver.

These decisions must, obviously, be communicated to the staff and be brought about specifically for reasons of patient safety.

The NPSG.01.01.01 FAQ can be found online here.

Executive Briefings debriefing, New York edition (#1)

Hello, everyone. I’ve just returned from the New York Executive Briefings. There weren’t any bombshells dropped this year by any of the presenters, who focused on the National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG), problematic standards, the new e-dition of the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals, and lastly gave an overview of the new scoring methodology.

Audience questions this year focused unsurprisingly on medication reconciliation, which continues to be a struggle for hospitals across the country. Universal Protocol was also a focal point during question and answer sessions.

Dr. Peter Angood said that The Joint Commission does not intend at this point to add any new NPSGs in 2009, though revisions are to be expected—and remember, just a few months ago we saw the release of the 2008 NPSGs that, though they did not contain any brand new Goals, did contain significant changes and left much work to do.

An important note on Periodic Performance Review (PPR): If your facility is due to submit a PPR before October, 2008, there are no changes. After October, PPR is optional for this year because of the numbering changes in the manual. If you choose to submit a PPR, though, it will need to be done before December 1 because The Joint Commission’s PPR tool will be offline.

If your PPR is due in January, you will have an extra 90 days to submit it. If due in February or March, you have an extra 60 days to submit it.

Was anyone else in attendance on Friday? What observations did you take away from the New York Executive Briefings?

I’ll be posting additional observations over the next few days, so please check back.