RSSArchive for March, 2011

HHS develops new strategy to improve healthcare quality

The Health & Human Services Department has released the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care, a strategy that was required under the Affordable Care Act, and one that promotes quality health care focused on the needs of patients.

The publication is the first step in the reform towards creating national goals and priorities to guide local, state, and national efforts to improve the quality of healthcare, and aims to make the health care system work better for physicians and other healthcare providers, through things like reducing administrative burdens and fostering collaboration to improve care.

The HHS strategy also calls for the increased use of electronic health records (EHR), which are a foundation for many of the projects that will realize HHS goals.

Click here to view the HHS strategy document.

Source: Government Health IT

AHAP Conference at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas

Save the date, and enter our contest, too!

HCPro’s Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals (AHAP) is hosting this year’s AHAP conference at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas on May 12-13th, 2011. Topics will include regulatory changes for 2011, core measures, risk assessments, and survey readiness, as well as a roundtable discussion where you can share your successes, challenges, and best practices about top accreditation and patient care issues.

Launched in September 2006, AHAP now has close to 500 members. The 2011 conference will be the association’s fifth annual conference, and you don’t have to be a member to attend.  This year’s conference is one you won’t want to miss. It will feature sessions about preparing for both The Joint Commission and CMS surveys, restraint, high risk procedures outside of the OR, effectively presenting data, infection control, as well as patient care, quality improvement, and more!

AHAP is also hosting a contest for best survey preparation tool, policy, or activity. To enter, submit a sample tool, policy, or a brief write-up about a recent (2010-2011) accreditation survey by Friday, April 8th.  Click here to read the full contest rules, and please send all of your entries directly to  The tools can be any examples that have helped you do your job better. Visit the AHAP Blog to see contest entries that have already been submitted. These sample documents will be posted to the AHAP Blog throughout the remainder of the month.

Choosing top-ranking hospitals for treatment could mean life or death

According to HealthGrades annual report Patient Safety in American Hospitals, certain medical errors are 46% less likely to occur at top-rated U.S. hospitals than bottom-ranked hospitals.

HealthGrades analyzed 40 million Medicare patient records from 2007 to 2009, focusing on 13 patient safety indicators, such as pressure ulcers, bloodstream infections from catheters, and foreign objects left in the body after procedures to identify medical errors that were largely preventable, and which hospitals were in the 5% for avoiding those errors.

The study found that four patient safety indicators—death among surgical inpatients with serious treatable complications, pressure ulcers, post-operative respiratory failure, and post-operative sepsis—accounted for more than two-thirds of all patient safety events, and were associated with $7.3 billion in additional costs.

According to the report, the 10 cities with the best performing hospitals included: Minneapolis-St. Paul; Wichita, KS; Cleveland and Toledo, OH; Wilkes-Barre, PA; Boston; Greenville, SC; Honolulu; Charlotte, NC; and Oklahoma City.

The study also found that patients in top-ranked hospitals were:

  • Thirty percent less likely to contract a hospital-acquired bloodstream infection
  • Thirty-nine percent less likely to suffer from post-surgical sepsis than those at low-rated hospitals
  • Fifty-two percent percent less likely to experience a central-line bloodstream infection

To view the annual report, click here.

Source: HealthDay

Washington, DC, nurses strike again

After almost a year of on-again, off-again contract talks and labor disputes over wages, benefits, staffing, and patient safety, nurses at the Washington Hospital Center—the region’s largest hospital—began a 24-hour strike on the morning of Friday, March 4.

Between 200 and 250 nurses picketed outside the hospital complex, chanting slogans and wearing red scrubs, the trademark color of National Nurses United, which represents the 1,600 nurses at Washington Hospital Center and is the nation’s largest nurses union.

According to The Washington Post, the nurses were picketing over potential cuts in wages, the need for more nurses, and benefit disputes—the same topics that have been an issue for the past year.  A hospital spokesperson told The Washington Post that of the 313 nurses scheduled to work the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. shift that day, more than 150 came in, and that replacement nurses were hired to fill in for the rest. The paper also reported that 125 hospital physicians had signed a petition requesting nurses to stay at patients’ bedsides.

The protest was supposed to last until the morning of Saturday, March 5, at 7 a.m., but hospital officials said they would lock out striking nurses for five days without pay, because the hospital is obligated to pay the replacement nurses for at least 60 hours of work.

To read more about the disputes at the Washington Hospital Center, click here.