USA TODAY – Two years ago, administrators and caregivers at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago were stunned when they flunked a basic standard for patient safety.
“It was a real jolt,” said Charles Holland, the hospital’s president and CEO. “We thought we were doing patient safety and we thought we were doing it well.”
But the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit health care watchdog organization, found the hospital fell short on documenting and having comprehensive approaches to hand-washing, medication safety systems and fall and infection prevention.
The wake-up call led Holland to hire a Patient Safety and Quality Officer and to use Leapfrog’s criteria as a roadmap for improving patient safety.
It worked. In its latest annual review of hospital safety, released Wednesday, Leapfrog awarded the century-old charity hospital an A.
“Those are really terrible declines in performance.”
The fact that St. Bernard could turn around so quickly and so effectively without spending a fortune in the process shows that patient safety is an attainable goal, said Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s president and CEO.
“I’m incredibly inspired by St. Bernard’s,” Binder said. “This is a story of a hospital that has every reason to give excuses and instead gave us extraordinary performance.”
For decades, hospitals have paid lip service to patient safety, but the numbers tell a different story. In 1999, an Institute of Medicine report called “To Err is Human” found medical errors cause as many as 100,000 deaths per year.
A 2017 study put the figure at over 250,000 a year, making medical errors the nation’s third leading cause of death at the time. There are no more recent figures.
But the pandemic clearly worsened patient safety, with Leapfrog’s new assessment showing increases in hospital-acquired infections, including urinary tract and drug-resistant staph infections as well as infections in central lines ‒ tubes inserted into the neck, chest, groin, or arm to rapidly provide fluids, blood or medications.
These infections spiked to a 5-year high during the pandemic and remain high … READ MORE.