Hospitals Join Forces to Improve ICU Care


Hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are working together to improve care in the intensive care unit (ICU). Critical care is expensive, with ICU costs representing more than 20 percent of a hospital’s total operating costs. To help hospitals accelerate the pace of clinical improvement and reduce ICU costs, VHA Inc., the national healthcare network, brought together 14 hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to address this issue. Through this effort, the hospitals are lowering mortality rates and implementing smarter strategies to reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia, prevent sepsis and bloodstream infections, some of the most common and costliest infections in the ICU.

For example, average treatment costs are:

· $40,000 per case of ventilator-associated pneumonia cost

· $45,000 per case of bloodstream infections

· $2,115 per day for a patient on a ventilator

“We launched our ICU improvement program last May,” said Eileen German, RN, MBA, director performance improvement at VHA’s regional office in Trevose, Pa. “The goal of this program is to bring together hospital clinical and quality leaders executives so they can share best practices and develop new techniques. We are thrilled that VHA is helping East Coast hospitals improve clinical care and patient safety. At a time when hospital bottom lines are suffering, saving money, while saving lives is a definite win-win.”

Two hospitals that are participating in the ICU RAN are Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Pa., and Crozer Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa., both of which are members of Crozer-Keystone Health System.

The hospitals joined the program to learn new strategies to improve care and decrease sepsis-related mortality. Sepsis is a blood infection that can strike and kill even healthy patients. Early detection and treatment of sepsis can reduce mortality and ICU length of stay. To date, participating in the VHA program has helped Delaware County Memorial reduce severe sepsis mortality rates by 16.5 percent and Crozer Chester dropped their mortality rates by 13 percent.

“Participating in the VHA program has helped our organization adapt best practices for sepsis care and encouraged us to implement some great strategies,” said Linda Palma, RN, CEN, CNOR, EBM program nurse at Delaware County. Strategies include:

· Development of a multidisciplinary sepsis committee

· Developing a sepsis binder containing standards of care, guidelines and references for nurses and physicians

· Development of posters focused on Sepsis Bundle and first six-hours of care. 

· Providing extensive educational opportunities for both physicians and nurses.

· Concurrent chart review and providing direct feedback to caregivers in real time.

· Creating a sepsis specific computer screen for laboratory work with corresponding “sepsis” labels for blood work

· Empowering nurses to initiate and implement physician approved sepsis protocols in response to early recognition of sepsis

Hospitals participating in VHA’s ICU improvement program include:

·  Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington, Pa.

·  Chilton Memorial Hospital, Pompton Plains, N.J.


·  Crozer Keystone Health System, Springfield, PA – includes:  Crozer Chester Medical Center (Upland, Pa.), Delaware County Memorial Hospital (Drexel Hill, Pa.), Taylor Hospital (Ridley Park, Pa.), Springfield Hospital (Springfield, Pa.)

· Grand View Hospital, Sellersville, Pa.

·  Hunterdon Medical Center, Flemington, N.J.

·  Montgomery Hospital, Norristown, Pa.

·   Temple University Health System, Philadelphia  – includes:  Temple University Hospital, Jeanes Hospital

·  The Chester County Hospital – West Chester, Pa.

·  Underwood Memorial Hospital, Woodbury, N.J.

·  Warren Hospital – Phillipsburg, N.J.




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