Health
3:37 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Area Hospitals Intensify Patient Safety Efforts

Nationwide, about one in twenty patients will contract a hospital associated infection, leading to tens of thousands of deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

But by the end of next year, hospitals and providers in Kansas and Missouri hope to reduce these infections by forty percent and preventable hospital readmissions by twenty percent.

In Kansas, the $2 million effort, launched this month, will involve training health workers, hosting forums, tracking hospitals’ progress and developing models for best practices.  Kendra Tinsley, head of a group that’s leading the project, says patient safety is not a new priority in health care. The Institute of Medicine addressed the problem ten years ago. But she says there hasn’t been enough progress in reducing infections since then.   

“In fact, we kind of got worse in these areas [nationwide],” says Tinsley. “And you know something? Hospitals and providers were working on it all that time.”

Tinsley says more coordinated approaches are needed, like the one that’s now happening in Kansas. 89 hospitals are participating in the project.

A similar program recently launched in Missouri, with 94 hospitals on board.

Both initiatives are part of a national, billion dollar patient safety effort that is part of the federal health law and is being spearheaded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. A national health organization affiliated with the American Hospital Association is also overseeing the projects in Kansas, Missouri and several other states.  

Tinsley says the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on the entire health law could affect these projects, but broader efforts will continue no matter what.

“It doesn’t matter if the health care law is in place or not,” says Tinsley. “Health care is not affordable at the current rate, and we know that and something has to be done.”

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This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes KCUR, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

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