North Country Hospital Recognized on the World Stage
It’s not very often that a small, community hospital has the chance to make it to the world stage, but that is just what North Country Hospital did in April.
Carol Martin, the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at North Country, and Jillian Poutre, a certified pharmacy technician at the hospital, were invited to attend the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare. It took place between April 17 and April 20. The conference, which was focused on how to improve patient safety, was attended by healthcare professionals from around the world. Carol and Jillian were there to
showcase North Country’s Medication Reconciliation Program.
“North Country Hospital, given that it is a small rural facility, is providing care at a level that is way ahead of other institutions,” Carol said. She told how she was approached by many people at the conference impressed with the work the hospital is doing, most notably when it comes to its Medication Reconciliation Program, a program which Jillian spearheads.
“The Medication Reconciliation Program helps us avoid unintended harm to our patients,” Jillian said. She is quick to point out that she is only one of many people at North Country dedicated to working to avoid medication errors. “It’s a collaborative effort.”
She explained that when a patient is admitted to North Country, a pharmacy technician begins collecting the patient’s medication history from multiple sources including the patient, family members, the patient’s pharmacy, and the patient’s primary care physician.
“I then compare and reconcile all the lists,” Jillian said. “Following that, I document and update their corrected medication list to their profile on our hospital software. With this information accurate to the best of my ability, one of the hospital pharmacists then compares the lists of medications the patient was taking upon his or her admission, to the medications ordered by the physician. Discrepancies, omissions, duplications, contraindications, changes, and unclear information are identified and resolved. I enjoy the investigative nature of the job.”
The pair was invited to attend the conference when their process improvement educational poster detailing the method which North Country reconciles medication was one of 500 posters out of 2,000 submitted to impress the organizers. Thomas Lichtenberger, a graphic designer from Newport, assisted Carol and Jillian with the graphics.
About 3,000 people attended the conference in Paris, France. Among the many other countries which had a presence at the conference were: Africa, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singpore, Spain, Sweden, and Thailand. A portion of Carol and Jillian’s expenses were paid for by Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, the company which provides management services for the pharmacy at North Country Hospital.
Carol and Jillian told how a participant from the Netherlands exclaimed that healthcare professionals around the world should use North Country’s method of reconciling medication, because by doing so it could save countless lives.
“All viewers were impressed that a critical access hospital was able to transform a process and successfully complete the medication reconciliation process at a 90 to 95 percent rate and make it to an international conference to present our accomplishments,” Jillian said. “They were in agreement; rightful ownership of medication reconciliation belongs to the pharmacy department due to the complexity of patient’s medication list. To compare how ground-breaking our process is, in one of the sessions I attended the presenter expressed how they have a 40-percent completion rate of patients admitted to their facility within 24 hours and their goal was to make it to 75-percent. Our initial goal was 95% and we surpassed that after three months.”
As the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at North Country, Carol said she is so proud of North Country’s pioneering work in patient safety.
“Since medication errors are the number one patient safety issue, this is something to be proud of,” she said. “We do, however, have many challenges that need to be tackled. The presentations were great in giving us ideas about breaking down silos within the organization, reducing re-admission rates, improving service recovery, and seeing that there is no silver bullet to solving these issues. We, like everyone else at the conference, can just keep chipping away at the issues and learning from each other.”
Carol and Jillian said the trip was well worth their time, and they plan to share with their colleagues what they learned about patient safety so North Country can be an even safer place for people to obtain their medical care. And, although the conference is now behind them, they are continuing to learn from it and the other participants. Attending it gave them connections from every corner of the world to draw from in their mission to provide the best and safest medical care possible at North Country.Jillian Poutre and Carol Martin showcase North Country Hospital’s medication reconciliation program at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare.
Jillian Poutre and Carol Martin showcase North Country Hospital’s medication reconciliation program at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare.