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Exempla Lutheran Collaborates on Hand Hygiene Project

November 13, 2009
Exempla Lutheran collaborates on hand hygiene project by: Kim Kobel Article Contributed on: 10/13/2009 8:55:16 PM Exempla Lutheran Medical Center Collaborates with Joint Commission on New Hand Hygiene Project Exempla Lutheran Medical Center is one of eight hospitals and health systems in the country to collaborate with the Joint Commission's Center for Transforming Healthcare (JCCTH) to develop "best practices" for achieving long-term, sustainable change in patient quality and safety. The first project of the collaborative has focused on hand hygiene because there is a direct link between hand hygiene and healthcare-associated infections, and because previous efforts to improve hand hygiene compliance had produced few sustainable improvements. Hand washing failures lead to health care-associated infections that kill nearly 100,000 Americans each year and cost U.S. hospitals between $4 billion - $29 billion annually to combat. In addition to Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, other leading hospitals participating in this collaborative effort facilitated by the JCCTH include: Cedars-Sinai Health System, Los Angeles, CA Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, WI The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Baltimore, MD Memorial Hermann Health Care System, Houston, TX Trinity Health, Novi, MI Virtua Health, Marlton, NJ Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC The targeted solutions developed by these pioneering hospitals will be shared with more than 16,000 health care organizations that are accredited by The Joint Commission. "Exempla Lutheran Medical Center physicians and staff are very pleased to participate in the work of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. As a result of our work, accomplishing sustained improvement in hand hygiene compliance will provide momentum for us to tackle complex problems in patient safety," said Robert Malte, President and CEO, Exempla Lutheran Medical Center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there are approximately 1.7 million new cases of infections that are acquired by patients during their stay in hospitals every year. Health care-associated infections are the fourth largest cause of death in the U.S. and although health care organizations and government agencies have developed numerous strategies over the years to battle these infections, studies have found that hand hygiene - the most basic, low-cost and low-technology infection prevention and control strategy - is practiced by just half of health care workers nationwide. Working together, the quality experts from the hospitals and the JCCTH have identified best-practice solutions: making hand washing a top priority for hospital staff; clearly stated expectations; staff training; and always washing hands before going in and when coming out of a patient's room. After implementing several of the identified best practices Exempla Lutheran Medical Center has increased their hand hygiene compliance rate to over 90% for 5 straight months and counting, To identify these best practices, the hospitals used proven and practical process improvement strategies, such as Lean Six Sigma, used by other industries. The key to the success of this collaborative will show over the next several months the ability of the hospitals to show sustained improvement in hand hygiene much more than we have been able to in the past with posters and fun campaigns stated Amber Miller RN, Manager of Patient Safety and Infection Prevention at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center. "Exempla Healthcare has demonstrated tremendous leadership by stepping up to indentify causes and develop targeted solutions to a patient safety problem facing all health care organizations," said Mark R. Chassin, M.D., M.P.P., M.P.H, president, The Joint Commission. For more information about The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare and Exempla Healthcare, visit www.centerfortransforminghealthcare.org & www.Exempla.org, or call 303-467-4520. Since 1905, Exempla Lutheran Medical Center has been advancing the art of healing and the science of medicine throughout metro Denver. Today, the 400-bed, community-based hospital offers a comprehensive spectrum of specialized care, from birth to end-of-life. Every patient can be assured of receiving the highest standard of care. Lutheran's national accreditations include Level III Trauma, Level III Neonatal, Chest Pain Centers of America, and is the region's only Sleep Disorders Center. The hospital's 2,500 employees, 800 physicians and 1,200 volunteers have helped Lutheran earn numerous recognitions, including being named one of the nation's Top 100 Hospitals seven times. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit affiliate of The Joint Commission. The Center aims to solve poor quality and unsafe health care and transform health care into a high reliability industry. The Center's participants - the nation's leading hospitals and health systems - use a proven systematic approach to analyze specific breakdowns in patient care and discover their underlying causes to develop targeted solutions that solve these complex problems. For more information about the Center, please visit www.centerfortransforminghealthcare.org. Kim Kobel is public information officer for Exempla Lutheran