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Children’s hospitals launch national patient safety initiative

By Cheryl Powell, Akron Beacon Journal –

AKRON, Ohio — Everyone makes mistakes.

But when it comes to providing medical care to kids, Ohio’s pediatric hospitals have decided even a single error is one too many.

A group of more than 100 leaders from children’s hospitals across the nation are coming to Ohio Thursday to learn how Akron Children’s and other pediatric hospitals in Ohio are working together to improve patient safety and save lives.

Since the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety initiative launched in 2009, the eight participating facilities estimate they have collectively saved more than 7,700 children from harmful errors and avoided $11.8 million in unnecessary health care costs.

“Our vision is to make Ohio the safest place for kids to get health care, period,” Nick Lashutka, president of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and the Ohio Children’s Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety.

Along with Akron Children’s, participating hospitals include Cleveland Clinic Children’s, Rainbow Babies and Children’s in Cleveland, Cincinnati Children’s, the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, Nationwide Children’s in Columbus, Promedica Toledo Children’s and Mercy Children’s in Toledo.

The initial projects have focused on ways to decrease narcotic medication errors and reduce surgical site infections for cardiac, neurosurgery and orthopedic procedures, said Dr. Michael Bird, vice president for medical services and patient safety officer at Akron Children’s.

“The philosophy has changed in the past five or 10 years, where getting to zero is our ultimate goal,” said Bird, who serves on the steering committee for the state collaborative.

The federal government has awarded the partners a two-year, $4.3 million contract to roll out the safety initiative nationwide at 75 children’s hospitals — 25 this year and 50 the following year.

Representatives from 34 hospitals in the project are attending a kickoff event Thursday in the Columbus area at the corporate headquarters of Cardinal Health Foundation, which has provided $3 million for the pediatric safety initiative.

Bird, Akron Children’s Hospital President and Chief Executive William Considine and other leaders from Akron’s pediatric hospital are expected to be among those at the meeting to share success stories.

The partnerships’ standards to avoid surgical-site infections include using a recommended surgical prep solution, giving patients a preventive antibiotic an hour before surgery and shaving with surgical clippers instead of safety razors to reduce skin irritation, said Debbie Hawk, clinical coordinator of orthopedics in surgery at Akron Children’s.

Since adopting those recommendations, Akron Children’s has reduced surgical-site infections for cardiac, spinal and neurological surgeries from 14 in 2009 to two last year, Bird said.

In addition, the eight hospitals worked together to develop standards and extra safety checks to avoid moderate or serious “adverse drug events” for morphine and other high-risk opioid medications. These events can include everything from constipation to overdosing.

Since last year, all 30,000 employees in Ohio’s pediatric hospitals — everyone from the janitorial staff to the CEO — also have been receiving training about how they can protect patients and avoid serious patient safety problems from happening.

The training encourages everyone to work together, communicate, be accountable and welcome questions, Bird said.

“Everyone makes a personal commitment to safety,” he said.

To develop the training, the hospitals consulted with industries that have enhanced safety procedures, such as nuclear power plants and aviation companies.

“Our goal is to eliminate all the harm,” Lashutka said. “It’s both an understanding that everybody is responsible and accountable and everybody can have an impact.”

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