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Improving Patient Safety

Improving the Culture of Safety 

NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) has instituted a culture of safety throughout the enterprise. We have a "blame free" philosophy that assumes that errors are the result of systems that can be improved. Employees are encouraged to report patient safety problems without fear of punishment. To facilitate this, we implemented an electronic reporting system that is used by medical staff, nursing and other clinical staff, and other employees. If issues are identified by patients or visitors, these too are entered into the system for review and appropriate action.

NorthShore participates in a 114 hospital Patient Safety Consortium organized by Stanford University's Center for Health Policy. Employees and medical staff are surveyed to measure our "Climate of Safety". Our results are benchmarked against other hospitals,  providing indicators of change over time and improvement opportunities.

Reducing Infections 

NorthShore is a leader in using technology to reduce the incidence of nosocomial (acquired in the hospital) infections. We want to avoid nosocomial infections as these can cause complications that may keep patients in the hospital, require additional tests and medical care, and in some cases cause disability or death. Infections are becoming harder to treat as many antobiotic resistant strains of bacteria are developing.

Our Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine uses sophisticated computer technology called data mining to predict outbreaks before they occur. This permits us to take the necessary actions to minimize the effect.

Another use of state of the art technology to reduce infections is the screening of all patients upon admission or pre-operatively for staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), a common and potentially fatal organism. A pilot program established in the Orthopaedics Department screened patients pre-operatively.  Patients testing positive are treated with a topical ointment. Post-operative infections were reduced from four percent to one percent, saving patients from potentially serious infections.

Improving Medication-Use Safety 

The Epic electronic health record used in NorthShore's 4 hospitals and 75 plus NorthShore Medical Group offices has significantly improved medication safety for our patients. NorthShore has experienced a 100% elimination of all transcription-related medication errors; a 70% decrease in delayed administration of medications to patients; a 20% decrease in omitted medication administration; and a 50% reduction for time from order to administration of first-dose antibiotics.