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Committing to Patient Safety

At HUP's 2010 Patient Safety Fair, pharmacist Wayne Marquardt discusses medication safety with a colleague. Penn Medicine kicked off Patient Safety Awareness Week today, with a plethora of activities and training initiatives designed to get our staff members talking about and learning more about something that’s at the heart of our work here: Keeping patients safe while they’re in our hospitals. The Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals for hospitals are a great starting point to learn more about why these issues -- which range from medication safety and infection control to staff communication -- are so important to us.

Last week, in a piece covering a new CDC report showing a 58 percent drop in central line infections among intensive care patients, the New York Times noted the terrific strides that HUP has already made at reducing these often-deadly infections even among patients on other units. Dr. Neil Fishman, associate chief medical officer and director of Healthcare Epidemiology and Infection Control and Prevention, shared the story of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s work to slash those infections throughout the hospital. Over the past six years, a combination of leadership initiatives, electronic infection surveillance, simple checklists to guide line insertion and maintenance, and improved wound care products all helped produce impressive results in central line safety.

In 2005, there were 40 to 50 central-line bloodstream infections at the hospital every month, Fishman told the Times. “That was our peak,” he said. “In 2011, we have zero to two every month. That took a lot of work from a lot of people, and a lot of dedication.”

But that’s just one of many stories we have to tell about why Penn Medicine is a patient safety leader. That team effort that Dr. Fishman mentioned is one key. The special events being held this week recognize the role that every staff member –- from security to our inpatient pharmacy to the labs where patient specimens are processed -- plays in keeping patients safe. This week on the Communications Department’s News Blog, we’ll be bringing you stories highlighting some of our most innovative initiatives for meeting -- and exceeding – these important goals. We’ll take you inside a special nursing simulation unit designed to put staff members’ eyes on potential safety pitfalls at the bedside, tell you about what are pharmacists are doing behind the scenes to ensure safe use of medications, and highlight a new project to prevent blood clots in patients who are confined to bed for long periods of time.

Patient Safety Awareness Week Updates and Stories

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Views expressed are those of the author or other attributed individual and do not necessarily represent the official opinion of the related Department(s), University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), or the University of Pennsylvania, unless explicitly stated with the authority to do so.

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