My responsibility as President and CEO of Harrison Medical Center is to ensure that the medical care our patients receive is effective, safe, and reliable. I would like to share with you a more complete representation of Harrison’s overall quality picture than you may have read about in the past year.
State and federal healthcare organizations have made many categories of hospital care data available to the public in recent years. For example:
• In 2010, the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA) debuted a new website that reports on surgical and other hospital acquired infection rates, as well as patient satisfaction and other categories of care. We submit data in every category.
• The Hospital Quality Alliance, a program managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, makes information about hospitals’ performance easy to understand and readily available to consumers. We submit data on more than two dozen of our clinical processes.
What you may not know is that Harrison voluntarily reports quality data well beyond what these and other state and federal organizations require. We have done so for many years.
Armed with this data, we can track standards of care, investigate our clinical processes, make improvements in the way we take care of patients, and increase patient safety. We can’t change what we don’t measure.
I fully support this transparency. I believe that our community has an absolute right to know about the quality of care they may receive at our local hospital.
Washington state hospitals lead the nation in transparency and their support of publically reported quality data. In the spirit of participation—not competition—hospitals are able to collaborate on how to increase quality and safety for patients. These collective efforts improve care and create better outcomes for our patients.
At Harrison, we actively encourage our patients to be informed consumers of their healthcare. Public reporting gives them that opportunity. They can compare hospitals of similar size that care for patients with similar acuity levels, which is the most accurate and fair representation.
It’s important to keep in mind that publicly reported quality data often has a lengthy lag in publication. Each state and federal organization has a different reporting period. The timeliest reports available only include data through December 2010.
As you may have read in the Kitsap Sun’s previous articles, Harrison’s infection rates for specific procedures in late 2009 through early 2010 were higher than the Washington state average. That was true. Four of the nine rates reported were higher.
Quality data for us isn’t just about numbers. It’s about our individual patients. Any increase in our infection rates—at any time—is unacceptable. When we notice a change, we immediately begin investigating causes and work to find solutions. At the time these articles were published, we already had recognized the problem areas and begun our improvement efforts.
I’m disappointed that the many improvement activities we provided to the Kitsap Sun were not reported to our community. Those detailed steps for each quality category provided a clear roadmap to understanding the data. Our hospital leaders—from executives to medical staff to infection prevention practitioners—shared information that would have assured our community that we quickly focused on these areas and tackled them head on.
Since our improvement work was initiated in 2009, our infection rates have dropped significantly. In particular, our central line infection rates, which were reported as the highest in the state in 2009, now have fallen to zero for the last seven months. This current rate ranks among the best hospitals in both the state and the nation.
We’d also like our community to know that other areas of care at Harrison—infection rates for vaginal hysterectomy and coronary artery bypass graft without donor site— always have been well below state averages.
Harrison’s current infection rates overall now rank among the best in the state. For the most current data reported to state and federal organizations (January to March 2011), we’re seeing zero rates in nearly every infection category. These better rates will be publically reported over the next six or more months.
One of our highest priorities is patient safety. We’re determined to provide quality care that consistently follows proven processes and best practices. Over time and through persistent efforts, we’re seeing results. Our employees and medical staff members are proud of the work we have done and the progress we have made for our patients and our community. We’ll diligently continue this work. Our goal for our patients is zero infections. Period.
I can say with confidence that one of the best—and safest—hospitals in the state is right here in Kitsap County. We invite you to view our quality data and national accreditations via our public website’s Quality & Safety section.
Scott Bosch President and CEO Harrison Medical Center