November 3, 2011

Applications roll in for new quality, patient safety program

Applications roll in for new quality, patient safety program

Twenty-two areas of Vanderbilt University Medical Center submitted proposals for the new Vanderbilt Quality and Patient Safety Pioneer Program.

The initiative is aimed at a VUMC “quality pillar” goal, namely, “to advance a culture of patient safety, quality and reliability” at the Medical Center.

Selections for the program were based on proposed improvement goals, evidence of past improvement efforts and pledges of leader participation, among other things.

The four groups selected are:

• Medical Center East Operative Services (including pre-op, post-op and operating room areas);
• The Vanderbilt Burn Center;

• Children’s Transform-ational Health Center and Pediatric Cardiac Perioperative Services;

Vanderbilt Heart & Vascular Institute.

Over the next 12 months, along with education and training, the selected groups will receive support to design, implement and test performance improvements.

“The response to the request for proposals was very gratifying. Selection was difficult due to the quality of the applications and the commitment and enthusiasm of the teams,” said Gerald Hickson, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Health Affairs, associate dean for Faculty Affairs and director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy.

The proposals included better patient handovers and teamwork, infection prevention, falls prevention and medication safety.

“We want to explore the next steps in improving surgical quality and safety,” said the author of one of the winning proposals, Duke Herrell, M.D., co-director of the Medical Center East OR and associate professor of Urologic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for those of us on the front lines of the clinical enterprise to draw on the expertise of our safety and quality specialists,” he said.

Noting that pre-incision time-outs have become a valued safety practice in Vanderbilt ORs, Herrell said the MCE OR will seek to advance this aspect of teamwork and communication yet further, instituting pre-case “briefs" to sketch procedures and quick team debriefings after each case.

“The projects are the vehicles to exercise new knowledge and skills to advance culture in accountability, reliability, and performance outcomes for our patients, families and staff,” said Julie Morath, R.N., M.S., chief quality and safety officer.

The year will include five half-day learning sessions, bi-weekly conference calls, coaching and mentoring by experts (both from within Vanderbilt and from outside the University), and support for project management, data gathering and analysis.

The Pioneer Program was organized by Michael Cull, Ph.D., M.S.N., director of education and dissemination with the Office of Quality and Patient Safety.

“This is intended as a yearlong emersion in safety science and learning and improving as a system,” Cull said.

In November, Lucian Leape, M.D., widely regarded as a founder of the modern patient safety movement, will visit the campus to meet with and congratulate Pioneer Program participants.