Group Working to Reduce Number of Hospital Deaths

Group Working to Reduce Number of Hospital Deaths

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Ed Yeates ReportingOne of the most aggressive campaigns ever launched by a consumer advocacy group is out to prevent 100-thousand hospital deaths by June of next year. A group stopped by one Utah hospital today for a spontaneous tour.

From their "100-thousand lives" campaign bus, members of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement walked into the University of Utah Hospital today to see how well things are going.

Nearly three thousand acute care hospitals have joined the IHI crusade. Several Utah hospitals are among them, including University Hospital.

"Well, I've just noticed I'm touching this, so one of the things I had better do when I leave here is wash my hands as well."

Keeping patients from dying of heart attacks, preventing medication errors, stopping the spread of infections through IV lines, hand-washing, using antibiotics before surgeries, and more. Even something as simple as raising a bed 30 to 40 degrees can dramatically reduce the risk of pneumonia in a patient on a ventilator.

So, how is the U doing?

Moe Mulligan, U of U Director of Quality & Patient Safety: "As of January-December 2004, puts us in the 93 percentile in the country. So we're in the top seven percent of the hospitals in the country."

In addition to IHI's goal, local hospitals are setting goals as well, including the university here. 100-thousand fewer hospital deaths over the next 18 months is what IHI wants. But individually...

Moe Mulligan: "So we did it by 20 percent last year. We're trying to decrease it by 25 percent again this yar."

Carol Haraden, National Institute for Healthcare: "If organizations don't use their data, they don't have a problem, they don't have the will to improve. So helping them figure out, 'Do we have a problem? How do we measure up to our data? How do we measure up honestly? Wow, we could do a lot better.'"

Moe Mulligan says hospitals like the U are trying to replace old habits with new ones, and it's working.

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