HMC earns A for patient safety
Hilo Medical Center received a top grade from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group — a leading proponent of patient safety.
Leapfrog gave HMC an A, its highest mark for hospital safety.
That helped place Hawaii among five states nationwide with the highest percentage of hospitals receiving an A.
Medical errors don’t tend to end up on lists of death contributors, but according to Leapfrog statistics they rank right behind heart disease and cancer as the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Medical errors are “never events” — the kind of avoidable mistakes in the health care setting that should never happen.
But they do, costing about 1,000 lives per day nationally, Leapfrog reports.
Medical errors include such events as operating on the wrong body part, allowing a pressure ulcer to form, operating on the wrong patient, giving the wrong dose of medicine, using a contaminated drug or device, having a patient get a hospital-acquired infection, discharging a patient to the wrong person when the patient isn’t cognitively able to recognize the error, loss of a specimen or leaving surgical tools inside a patient after surgery.
Hawaii does not have a centralized database for hospitals to compare their medical error rates with other health facilities. But Leapfrog allows them a way to see how they compare nationally.
Chad Shibuya, Hilo Medical Center’s infection control director, said infection prevention requires the buy-in of the entire staff, not just nurses and physicians willing to wash hands after touching any surface other than the patient. Laundry staff, maintenance personnel and dietary crews also play a critical role in infection control, which encompasses everything from food to surgical procedures, IV insertion and air quality.
“It does come down to even making sure that our air conditioning systems are working properly,” Shibuya said.
Hilo Medical Center’s medical director Dr. Jon Martell oversees the electronic medical record system. He said the hospital withheld compensation from hospitalists — physicians who specialize in taking care of hospitalized patients — and they had to win it back by demonstrating infection control as a top priority. So. it was an all-hands-on-deck effort to raise the hospital’s patient safety record.
Hilo Medical Center was the only Big Island hospital to receive an A rating. It scored a C in 2014, a B in 2015 and an A for 2016.
Hilo Medical Center ranked above average for MRSA infections, C. difficile infections, infections in the blood during ICU stays, urinary tract infections during ICU stays and surgical site infections after colon surgeries.
The hospital didn’t report data about hand washing and performed below average when communicating about patient discharge. But in terms of patient falls, pressure ulcers and air or gas bubbles in the blood, Hilo Medical Center performed better than average.
It also ranked high for staff responsiveness and communication with nurses.
Martell said HMC is a “very data-driven hospital” and that helps when protecting patient safety.
For example, the hospital began a specialized program to recognize sepsis and provide rapid treatment — even before a national mandate was instituted.
“We’re proud,” Martell said.
Shibuya said teaching points are integrated into the electronic medical records to make sure patients get the knowledge they need about their health.
“We just have to work really hard to keep doing what we’re doing and possibly even get better over time,” he said.
Hilo Medical Center received an A grade from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, a leading proponent of patient safety.