Tag Archives: hospital quality

Patient safety expert Pronovost is keynote speaker

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Johns Hopkins University and founder of the Quality and Safety Research Group, will be the keynote speaker at Health Journalism 2010. He will appear at the awards luncheon on Saturday, April 24.

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D.

Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D.

Pronovost specializes in improving patient safety through methods that are scientifically rigorous but feasible at the bedside. In his new book, “Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out,” Pronovost tells of losing his father as the result of a medical error and his own journey from a researcher to an international leader in patient safety.

Pronovost joins a number of high-profile speakers. Conference participants will have the chance to attend newsmaker briefings featuring leaders from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration:

  • Thomas Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Kathleen Sebelius, M.P.A., secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Jeffrey Shuren, director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration

A special track on assessing health reform is intended to help reporters understand the changes coming and better explain what’s ahead to their readers, viewers and listeners:

  • Does comparative effectiveness research work?
  • Outlook for the nation’s hospitals
  • Is there a looming doctor shortage?
  • What’s ahead for state and local governments
  • The reporting challenge going forward

“Influenza! Lessons learned from a year of H1N1” will feature experts on public health, infectious diseases, preparedness and vaccines:

  • Jeffrey Levi, Ph.D., executive director, Trust for America’s Health
  • Anne Schuchat, M.D., director, CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases
  • Litjen Tan, Ph.D., director of medicine and public health, American Medical Association; co-chair, National Influenza Vaccine Summit
  • Moderator: Maryn McKenna, independent journalist, Minneapolis

See the complete conference schedule.

Reports reveal problems in England’s NHS

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

England’s Care Quality Commission, a regulatory agency, has found that a quarter of the National Health Services hospital trusts fail to meet basic standards of hygiene, according to The Telegraph‘s Andrew Hough.

Some of the failures included 36 trusts not providing areas to decontaminate instruments, three trusts failing to regularly flush unused water outlets while more than a dozen trusts failed to keep clinical areas clean.

Photo by rosefirerising via Flickr
Photo by rosefirerising via Flickr

As Hough reports, the revelations come just days after a BBC investigation found that hospital trusts have given incorrect information on their performance and quality of care.


Conflicting demands on their job and being rushed or understaffed were common problems revealed by a recent survey of employees of England’s National Health System, as The Telegraph‘s Rebecca Smith reports.

The NHS, according to its Web site is “the world’s largest publicly funded health service” with more than 1.7 million employees. The survey was done by the Care Quality Commission.

The CQC reports some improvements in job satisfaction, however:

Approximately half of all staff would recommend their trust as a place to work, and just under two thirds are happy with the standard of care provided by their trust. There has also been a substantial rise in the % of staff saying that they have had training in infection control.

Joint Commission finds improved hospital quality

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The latest report from The Joint Commission, a hospital accrediting organization, finds that “overall, hospitals are following evidence-based standards for treatment of myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia,” as MedPage Today reports.

The report, which looks at 31 evidence-based measures, did find decreases in two areas: measuring oxygen in blood for pneumonia patients and administering antibiotics to pneumonia patients in the intensive care unit within 24 hours.

The report, “Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint Commission’s Annual Report on Quality and Safety 2009,” (PDF) and those from three previous years are available on the commission’s Web site. Among the key findings:

  1. Hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission have significantly improved the quality of care provided to heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients over a seven-year period.
  2. Hospitals have steadily improved on individual surgical care performance measures – as well as on additional individual heart attack and pneumonia care measures – over a two-, three- or four-year period.
  3. Hospital performance on two individual measures of quality relating to inpatient care for childhood asthma is excellent after only one year of measurement.
  4. Improvement is still needed.
  5. Where a patient receives care makes a difference.

As ProPublica’s Charles Ornstein explains in his tip sheet, The Joint Commission does routine inspections of participating hospitals to ensure they meet the standards required for accreditation. It compiles public reports on each hospital, which are available on the qualitycheck.org Web site. These reports include the hospital’s accreditation status, as well as some data on hospital outcomes and practices.

It does not release its detailed inspection reports to the public, and many states’ open records laws specifically exempt the reports from public disclosure. In the past, these inspections have not been surprises, and the group has been faulted for being slow to act against hospitals with problems Also, The Joint Commission rarely takes punitive steps against hospitals, preferring to work with them to improve.

Tip Sheets

A road map for covering your local hospital’s quality

Sorting out hospital rankings

Study: Hospital quality comparisons are inconsistent

News: Congress requires Joint Commission to re-apply for accreditation privileges (Sept. 17, 2008)

Obama initiatives include VA hospital report cards

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Saying that “commitment to open government goes beyond the making of government-wide policy for the future,” the White House announced a number of “open government” initiatives on Tuesday.

The initiatives come with an “Open Government Directive” (PDF) from Peter Orszag, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, that sets out steps toward creating a more open government and establishes deadlines for action:

  • Publish Government Information Online – Includes a requirement that each agency create an Open Government Web page within 60 days.
  • Improve the Quality of Government Information – Within 45 days each agency must designate an official to be accountable for the quality and objectivity of federal spending information
  • Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government – Within 120 days, each agency will publish on its Open Government Web page an a plan about how it will improve transparency and public participation.
  • Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government – Officials will review OMB policies to find impediments to open government and propose changes to increase openness.

Photo by Ed Dame via Flickr

The specific initiatives just announced come from all departments of the cabinet. One of the most notable is a hospital report card that will include raw data for veterans administration hospitals:

To empower Veterans and the public at large to track quality, safety, and access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs is publishing hospital “report cards,” including raw data on care provided in outpatient and hospital settings, quality of care within given patient populations, and patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Other health-related initiatives include:

Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy & the National Aeronautics and Space Administration: National Assets for High-Tech Economic Growth
Fledgling businesses need easier ways to identify and assess entrepreneurial opportunities that will create jobs and strengthen economic growth. Towards that goal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Agricultural Research Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are increasing access to information on 1) new technologies available for commercial licensing, 2) Cooperative Research and Development (CRADA) awards and opportunities, 3) Small Business Innovation Research  (SBIR) awards and opportunities,  4) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards and opportunities, and 5) projects sponsored through grants and contracts.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Geographic Distribution of Expenditures
The National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics will release three years of raw data on estimated annual VA spending in each county and congressional district.  The data represent payments to Veterans and dependents, services provided to Veterans, and general operating expenses. These data will be used by state and local Veteran agencies, Veteran advocacy groups, and the public to compare to and plan for local Veteran needs. Making the raw data available will enable its combination with local-population and veteran-related data, fostering new knowledge and improved services for Veterans.

Department of Agriculture: Promoting a Healthier America
To unleash innovative approaches to improving the health of America’s children, the Department of Agriculture is releasing nutrition data for over 1,000 commonly consumed foods and launching a national competition for creative, mobile and web-based games. The competition will challenge entrepreneurs, software developers, and students to leverage the newly released data to develop games to help children make healthy eating decisions.

Department of Labor: Keeping America’s Workers Out of Harm’s Way
For the first time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Department of Labor is systematically publishing employer-specific information about occupational fatalities online.  Employers with reported fatalities will have an incentive to take steps to improve safety and prevent future accidents. In addition, responsible employers will be able to use the database to identify dangerous conditions and take proactive precautions.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Veteran Population Model
The Veteran Population Model – using combined data from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Bureau of the Census – provides the official estimates and projections of the veteran population for each year from April 1, 2000, through September 30, 2036. Previously available only through predefined queries, access to the raw data will enable public and private-sector service organizations to incorporate VetPop data into their models to project future demand based on population and demographic estimates.

Q&A on achieving a more open government

Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra take questions on the directive and the move to a more transparent government.

Nursing blog marks anniversary of landmark report

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

In a two-week series of posts, the INQRI blog – the blog of the Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative – is recognizing the 10th anniversary of “To Err is Human,” the groundbreaking report that found that as many as 98,000 people die each year from medical errors in hospitals.

A nurse vaccinates a child in this CDC photo.

A nurse vaccinates a child in this CDC photo.

The latest post, written by Barbara Olson of Florence dot com, looks at the building blocks of better health care. She says that ten years of studying how to make health care reliable has revealed that “things like speaking clearly, repeating words to be certain they have been understood; taking turns; using “inside” voices; and getting plenty of rest matter when individuals rely on complex processes to deliver intended outcomes. (Even “time-outs” have made a comeback!)”

Earlier posts include a Q&A with Paul Levy, president and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston; one that warns that we may not have made much progress in the area of patient safety; and a post about a nurse researcher who has found that a positive work environment helps nurses catch errors before they harm patients.