June 1, 2007

VUMC impresses in surprise state inspection

Featured Image

William Schaffner, M.D.

VUMC impresses in surprise state inspection

As happens every three years, a group of inspectors from the Tennessee Department of Health, Bureau of Health Licensure and Regulation, arrived unannounced to inspect safety operations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

VUMC activated its Emergency Operations Center to mount a highly coordinated response. Inspectors arrived at 7 a.m. on Monday and finished their work at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

State inspections focus on safety protections afforded both to patients and to employees. There were nine inspectors in all: a pharmacist, a dietician, four nurses and three safety specialists. Terri Hartman, VUMC's interim director of accreditation and standards, said this was the most thorough state inspection she'd ever seen.

“Our institution did outstandingly. They were so impressed — 'impressed' is a word they continued to use over and over. As a past state surveyor myself, and a current Vanderbilt employee, I can say this was truly an outstanding survey,” Hartman said.

She said inspectors were particularly impressed with the speed with which VUMC was able to respond to every request and retrieve every piece of information. “This was direct evidence of how well the incident command system works. It was the key,” she said.

Inspectors visited each of VUMC's three hospitals, a majority of clinics (both on and off campus), and services such as respiratory therapy, radiology, the lab and rehabilitation services.

“They want to ensure that physicians are involved in quality assurance efforts, that there is continuity of policy and procedure, that no areas are operating in a vacuum. And on all points, we were able to show that is indeed the case at the Medical Center.”

Hartman said the minimal citations issued dealt primarily with documentation. There were no severe citations. Inspectors will issue their report next week and VUMC will have 30 days to take corrective action.