Improving Patient Safety

07 Aug 2013
Reducing the wasteful use of health care is a major success of the Puget Sound Alliance. In cooperation with employers who purchase insurance plans for their employees, Puget Sound has focused on the appropriate use of advanced medical technology to lower costs. Puget Sound has built relationships with area employers and has given them the customized tools and information they need to emphasize cost and quality of health care.
In 2009, 16 hospitals in Washington State made a pledge: to adopt a uniform checklist for surgery with an eye toward improving patient safety.
Now, some hospitals have achieved dramatically better results of 20 percentage points or more over a six-year period on a composite score for surgery best practices, as reported by the Puget Sound Health Alliance, the Aligning Forces for Quality leader in Washington State. By 2010, all hospitals across Washington State with a surgical program had adopted the checklist and put it into use. The checklist is part of a larger program called the Surgical Clinical Outcomes Assessment Program (SCOAP), which is run by the Foundation for Health Care Quality (FHCQ). SCOAP shares a common goal with the Puget Sound Health Alliance: improving quality by reducing variation in outcomes and process of care in every hospital.  The Puget Sound Health Alliance is a partner organization to FHCQ, which developed and led implementation of the checklist. Even hospitals that performed well originally continue to improve.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, when surgeons use a checklist, patients are 50 percent less likely to die and 33 percent less likely to have surgical complications. Every patient benefits from surgical teams double-checking important details, which will significantly increase patient safety, reduce medical errors, and streamline surgical procedures.
The measures on the SCOAP composite checklist include: antibiotic given within one hour of surgery and stopped within 24 hours after surgery, correct antibiotic given, blood clot treatment ordered within 24 hours before and after surgery, blood sugar control, and appropriate hair removal.
The Puget Sound Health Alliance continues to encourage improvement in health care quality through data collection and transparency. In September 2012, the Alliance released its sixth annual Community Checkup report, “the result of a collaborative effort to improve the quality and affordability of health care in the region  .” The Community Checkup reports on health care across the Puget Sound region and is developed in partnership with medical groups, clinics, and data suppliers such as insurers and self-funded purchasers. The Community Checkup gives health care consumers ideas on how to take a more active role in their own care. Consumers can compare scores for hospitals and medical groups in the Puget Sound region. 
The Community Checkup website encourages people to take a more active role in their health by promoting steps for consumers to take to improve their chances of receiving high‐quality care. This includes useful tips and information to help them learn what they can do themselves and what they should expect from their providers. As a leader in health care measurement and data collection, the Puget Sound Health Alliance is guiding consumers and providers toward better patient outcomes.