University of Michigan Hospitals Win Award for Being Among the Nation's Safest

The University of Michigan hospitals are among the safest and most effective hospitals in the country, according to a new national ranking from the Leapfrog Group. The announcement was made at last night's 10th anniversary meeting for Leapfrog, a respected independent healthcare quality rating organization.

The U-M Hospitals and Health Centers is among 65 institutions named 2010 Leapfrog Top Hospitals, based on a rating system that provides a detailed assessment of a hospital's safety and quality. The top hospitals list includes university and other teaching hospitals, children's hospitals and community hospitals in rural, suburban and urban settings. U-M is one of four Michigan hospitals on the list.

"Receiving this national award validates the intense focus that we have given to improving patient safety," says Doug Strong, chief executive officer of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers. "Although we are well above average in many areas of patient safety, we emphasize the need for continuous improvement."

Darrell A. Campbell, Jr., MD, chief medical officer, UMHHC, and Henry King Ransom Professor of Surgery at the U-M Medical School, leads the patient safety program. "Our goal is to be the safest hospital in the country," says Campbell. "We have put a lot of resources into making sure that patients are safe when they come into the hospital."

Though long regarded among the nation's best for high-quality care, UMHHC has made patient safety issues a top priority since 2000. Some recent successes include the following:

-- A 40-percent reduction in infections at the site of surgical procedures

-- Reduced medication errors

-- Improved hand hygiene by clinical staff

-- Required flu shots for clinical staff

Campbell also emphasizes that effective lines of communication between patients and their doctors is a crucial part of a patient safety environment.

"We recognize that patient safety is a team effort," offers Margaret Calarco, PhD, RN, senior associate director of patient care services and chief of nursing services, UMHHC and associate dean for clinical affairs and adjunct professor of nursing, School of Nursing. "No one group or discipline is solely responsible, but in fact, all of us are responsible for working closely together as a health care team in partnership with our patients and families to make the greatest difference in our patient safety efforts."

The 2010 Top Hospitals list is based on nearly 1,200 hospitals that responded to the Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey. The survey focuses on four critical areas of patient safety: the use of computer physician order entry to prevent medication errors; standards for doing high-risk procedures such as heart surgery; protocols and policies to reduce medical errors and other safe practices recommended by the National Quality Forum; and adequate nurse and physician staffing.

In addition, hospitals are measured on their progress in preventing infections and other hospital-acquired conditions and adopting policies on the handling of serious medical errors, among other things.

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