Parkland quality improvement programs recognized by The Joint Commission

Focus on quality, safety during National Patient Safety Awareness Week

DALLAS – “First do no harm” is a fundamental principle of the medical profession dating back to the time of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician regarded as the father of medicine. While modern medicine has evolved in effectiveness and complexity thanks to advanced technology, medicines and treatments, the essential maxim remains – that healthcare should, above all, be safe. 

National Patient Safety Awareness Week, sponsored by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement and this year observed March 10-16, highlights the efforts of healthcare providers across the country to prevent medical errors and avoid adverse effects to patients. At Parkland Health & Hospital System, it’s also an opportunity to nurture and celebrate grass-roots innovations in quality and safety initiated by Parkland staff.

“Patient safety is everyone’s responsibility at Parkland, regardless of their role in the organization,” explained Karen S. Garvey, BSN, MPA/HCA, DFASHRM, CPHRM, CPPS, Vice President of Safety and Clinical Risk Management. “Quality care, patient safety and improving the patient experience are our top priorities and we want to recognize those at Parkland who embody this commitment to patient safety every day.”

Throughout the week, Parkland recognizes staff and teams that have been identified by their peers as “Patient Safety Champions” who have led innovative projects to improve patient safety. Some of these champions have also submitted posters showcasing department safety initiatives that contribute to enhancing patient, staff or visitor safety. Additionally, the week encompasses safety-focused games, a safety fair and hosting a nationally known guest speaker, Thomas Lee, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey.

According to Garvey, nationally-recognized patient safety advocates have identified a number of ongoing patient safety challenges in the U.S., including diagnostic errors, healthcare-acquired infections, falls, medication errors, readmissions and patient identification issues. “These are some of the most common and also most worrisome issues that all healthcare providers must continuously address,” she said. 

While the focus of National Patient Safety Awareness Week is preventing harm in healthcare settings, Garvey noted that it’s also an important opportunity to share news of a variety of Parkland initiatives that are advancing quality and safety and improving the patient experience, not only at Parkland but beyond.

In July, The Joint Commission (TJC) added a new requirement for healthcare organizations nationwide to its 2019 National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG) to address suicide prevention. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit group in the United States that administers voluntary accreditation programs for hospitals and other healthcare organizations. 

TJC recognized Parkland for its unique universal suicide risk assessment program that was introduced in 2015 to provide suicide risk screening for all patients ages 10 and up accessing Parkland services, both inpatient and outpatient. Parkland was the first major healthcare system in the nation to introduce a universal suicide screening tool.

In addition, TJC invited Parkland to submit five best practices that are now available in TJC’s Leading Practice Library, a free tool available to organizations that are currently accredited and/or certified by TJC. The library offers these institutions access to “real-life” solutions successfully submitted by their peers. 

The best practices identified at Parkland include:

• VCare – a value-based care delivery model that Parkland launched in October 2016 to provide customized care for highly vulnerable patients while also lowering utilization of more costly acute care services

• ED split flow – improved triage and treatment through the Emergency Department

• eConsults – telehealth platform used to ease access for specialty care through electronic consultations

• Global Diabetes Program – improvement in patient self-care related to diabetes management

• Fluoroquinolone usage reduction in the outpatient setting – an antimicrobial stewardship program that promotes the appropriate use of antimicrobials (including antibiotics), improves patient outcomes, reduces microbial resistance, and decreases the spread of infections caused by multidrug-resistant organisms

Other notable quality and safety initiatives underway at Parkland include efforts to improve the safety and quality of care for behavioral health patients, including: • RIGHT Care Team – a collaboration with the Dallas Police Department, Dallas Fire-Rescue and Parkland social workers providing rapid response to mental health emergency calls in south central Dallas, diverting mental health patients from area emergency rooms and jails by stabilizing them on the scene and getting them to the appropriate preventive and intervention services that can meet their healthcare needs

• LIFE (Law Enforcement Intervention for Environmental/Patient Safety) Team – mental health-trained police officers assist staff providing care to high-risk patients 

• Behavioral Emergency Response Team (BERT) – specially trained staff deescalate potentially violent situations involving individuals who may compromise their own safety or that of others.

“At Parkland, we view patient safety as much more than preventing harm to those we serve,” Garvey said. “It is the cornerstone of our mission – to provide quality care with compassion to our patients in the hospital and neighborhood health centers, and the entire community.”

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