University Health Care System
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University Wins Two First-place Patient Safety Awards January 21, 2010

For more information, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/ 828-2394


ATLANTA – University Hospital in Augusta won two prestigious first-place awards at the recent annual Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) Quality and Patient Awards. The University projects tied for first place with each other in the competition’s Greater Than 300 Beds Category. The first award-winning project titled, "Pneumonia: Seeking Performance Excellence One Breath at a Time” tied with the second University project titled, “Sepsis: Find It Fast, Treat It Faster.” These annual awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

“These awards are an acknowledgement of University’s constant effort to create a culture that emphasizes patient safety and quality of care above all priorities,” said Heidi Nelson, University’s director of Performance Improvement, Patient Safety and Respiratory Care, who presented the projects at the conference on Jan. 6 and 7 in Greensboro, Ga.

The goals of the pneumonia project included reducing occurrences of pneumonia mortality and increasing core measure bundle compliance. A bundle is a series of interventions related to care that, when implemented together, will achieve significantly better outcomes than when implemented individually. A multidisciplinary team created a detailed work plan that targeted structures, processes and outcome efforts. Staff was educated and best practices were researched. Results showed pneumonia mortality was reduced to a rate of 6.5 percent and bundle compliance exceeded 100 percent.

The sepsis project was created to reduce sepsis mortality incrementally each year and to attain a 25 percent reduction in mortality over five years (by the year 2010). Strategies to achieve the goals included staff education; devising a review process of septic patients; creating visuals to alert staff to the suspicion of sepsis in patients; and reducing length of stay while ensuring the quality of care was maintained. Results showed a 25 percent reduction over four years. During the first quarter of 2009, the hospital saw a 1.06-day decrease in length of stay.

“This is a result of a huge amount of teamwork,” said University’s Chief Medical Officer William Farr, M.D. “You cannot improve without nurses, pharmacists, technologists, physicians and therapists. You need the entire array of people on the team to improve the system.”

PHA officials said this was the first time in the history of the awards that a hospital had tied for two first-place awards.

“One of the biggest priorities for hospitals throughout the state is the prevention and reduction of infection,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Joseph Parker. “We applaud University Hospital for its leadership and dedication in this critical area and its commitment to providing the best and safest care possible for its patients.”

About PHA: The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities.

About GHA: Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.

About University Health Care: University Health Care System offers a comprehensive range of services throughout 25 counties in Georgia and South Carolina. The cornerstone of the system is University Hospital, a 581-bed community nonprofit hospital that leads the region in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is noted as a leader in obstetrical and gynecological care.

University has been named the Consumer Choice Award winner in the Augusta area for 11 consecutive years for overall quality and image, and is the only hospital in Augusta to have the Magnet designation for nursing excellence.



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1350 Walton Way, Augusta, Georgia
(706) 722-9011