By Dennis Domrzalski, Reporter-Albuquerque Business First
Lovelace Westside Hospital has been named one of the safest hospitals in the U.S. by Consumer Reports magazine.
The 80-bed hospital received a safety score of 73 out of a possible 100 and was 14th on Consumer Reports’ list of the nation’s safest hospitals. The magazine reviewed about 4,000 hospitals.
The safety scores were based on five categories and information from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The categories included mortality rates for heart attack and pneumonia patients within 30 days of admission, hospital readmissions, infection rates, and scanning, or the percentage of chest or abdominal CT scans that are ordered twice for the same patient.
Consumer reports rated 20 New Mexico hospitals; it did not have ratings for 21 others.
I asked hospital COO and Chief Nursing Officer Nancye Cole how LWH was able to achieve its ranking.
It requires a lot of communication. You don’t work in a vacuum and people can’t work in silos. It’s a team effort. I say it’s the power of one. It’s the efforts of all the team members and what we can do together.
We do safety huddles every single morning. They involve members of every department and it is a quick down-and-dirty look at issues from the day prior, the present day and on issues involving staffing, discharges and volume and what we can do every day. We meet between 8:15 and 8:30.
The nursing staff does hourly rounds on the patients, something we have been working on for a few years. The nurses and/or the patient care techs go in every hour and focus on three major questions. Are you having any pain? Positioning, meaning, is the patient comfortable, and what we call potty. We want to make sure that patients are safe in getting to the restroom. The final thing that is asked before anyone leaves a room is “Is there anything else we can do for you?”
Hospital executives round as often as possible. We round on patients, but also on the staff to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs. It’s not negative. We ask them what they need to do their jobs. There is a team of administrators who are on call after hours. We come in and round on staff one night and one weekend day. It’s important to meet with the night staff.
A year ago we instituted the Sacred Moment. We have gotten more and more technically advanced in health care and the focus on technology has created the opportunity to know and do more, but we have to remember that behind all those lines and beeps is a patient. My belief is that every patient that comes through those doors, no matter if they’re there for a cut, to have a baby, or need a follow-up X-ray, they will be anxious or scared or maybe excited. So we want to greet them early on and ask them, ‘What is your greatest fear or concern?’ If they know that you are going to listen to them, you may have opened up the ability for them to ask questions. Even the admitting clerk will engage a patient and ask, ‘What is your greatest concern?’ We are always keeping patients in the loop.
We have what we call ‘hard stops,’ which means that certain things have to happen. For example, when a patient comes into the emergency room diagnosed with pneumonia, one of the first core things that you need to do is to draw a blood culture to see what the bug is. If you put them on antibiotics before you draw the blood, you might not find the bug. So we have a hard stop. If a nurse has an order to start an antibiotic out of a machine, the machine will say, ‘Did you do the blood culture?’ Good processes are very important in health care.
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