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First, do no harm: How one hospital is eliminating patient harm

In health care, our promise is to "first, do no harm." However, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report in 1999, To Err is Human: Building A Safer Health System, which estimated that as many as 98,000 individuals die each year due to medical errors.

Since the release of that report, significant focus has been placed on safety throughout the healthcare system not to simply reduce harm, but to eliminate it altogether. In pursuit of this goal, hospitals across the United States have taken steps to drive organizational and process improvements to achieve improved safety.

The Partnership for Patients provides a guide for delivering care which does no harm. This guide identifies four imperatives upon which an organization must focus to achieve high-quality, safe care:

  • Establish a safety culture – Commit to safety at all levels of an organization to reduce harm
  • Engage patient and their family – Integrate the patient voice into health care
  • Create "Safety Across the Board" – Maintain a formal agenda to track and implement process improvements to eliminate all harm
  • Count total harm – Measure and sum the individual categories over a specified time

Featured in a new case study, Washington Health System (Washington, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) has decreased its total patient harm by 25% over the past six years by monitoring harm and implementing process improvements to eliminate it. Highlights of this case study include:

  • Safer medications with standardized process – Washington Hospital pharmacy processed more than 1.8 million medication orders in 2015. By using an interdisciplinary approach and computerized physician order entry (CPOE), Washington Hospital reduced medication errors with harm to zero cases in fiscal year 2016.
  • More efficient lab order sets and results verification – Using a rules-based lab information system, Washington Hospital improved accuracy and efficiency, enabling technologists to better address abnormal results.
  • Clinical pathways to care for patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) Advanced clinical decision support (CDS) tools enable clinicians to access customized, evidence-based order sets to guide the most effective interventions.
  • Patient engagement and care management for better population health Leveraging its patient portal, Washington Hospital has improved communication with and care coordination for patients.

To learn more about how Washington Health System has embraced "Safety Across the Board" and is delivering high-quality, safe care, download this free case study.

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