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Dartmouth-Hitchcock Joins New NH Patient Safety Effort

February 28, 2011
Concord, NH

New Hampshire is the first state in the country where the governing boards of all hospitals have signed a resolution to work collaboratively to deliver safe care to everyone who walks through their hospitals' doors. In their continuing effort to promote better and safer care to patients, hospitals across the state have committed to work together on ways to help eliminate harm to patients. To accomplish this goal, they pledge to consistently follow the processes of care that have been proven to increase patient safety.

"Hospitals in our state have made tremendous strides in making improvements to quality of care," said Greg Walker, chairman of the Foundation for Healthy Communities and CEO of Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover. "With their commitment to participate in the New Hampshire Eliminate Harm Initiative, they will continue that work with an even more ambitious purpose."

For the better part of the last ten years, New Hampshire's hospitals have ranked number one in the country for providing the appropriate evidence-based processes of care for patients being treated for heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia, and those undergoing surgery. But there is more to be done to ensure that every patient receives the right care every time.

"The Eliminate Harm Initiative's goal is to remove those instances of patient harm that could have been prevented if the processes and systems known to improve patient safety had been implemented and followed," said David Green, MD, chief medical officer at Concord Hospital and member of the N.H. Eliminate Harm steering committee. The committee, made up of representatives of several hospitals, identifies which aspects of harm hospitals will target for elimination.

While there are no uniformly accepted definitions, "harm" in this initiative refers to an injury associated with medical care which requires or prolongs hospitalization and/or results in permanent disability or death.

Hospitals in New Hampshire already have been working for several years on improving patient care, including efforts to decrease infection rates through a campaign to promote hand washing among health care providers. Hospitals also are decreasing harm in the operating room by using a patient safety checklist before and during all procedures. Another statewide effort among hospitals is working to eliminate central line bloodstream infections. More detailed information about all of the hospital patient safety projects related to the Eliminate Harm Initiative is available online at www.healthyNH.com and www.nhha.org.

"Working together as a group, our hospitals have proven over time that they can make a significant positive impact on the quality of care they provide in all of the areas they focus on," said Michelle McEwen, chair of the New Hampshire Hospital Association board of trustees and CEO of Speare Memorial Hospital in Plymouth. "Their collaboration, willingness to share, and ability to learn from each other are keys to the success in making care better and safer."

The newest strategy adopted in 2011 is to prevent cases of hospital-acquired venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease over the next 12-18 months.

"VTE can be deadly to hospitalized patients," said Carl DeMatteo, MD, chief quality and compliance officer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who also serves on the steering committee. "Pulmonary embolism, in particular, is a dangerous condition with an exceeding high mortality rate. Multiple clinical trials have provided irrefutable evidence that VTE can be prevented."

Hospitals in New Hampshire are working hard to ensure that the appropriate protocols are used to prevent VTE in every patient at risk.

"Our hospitals are poised to deliver the best health care in the country," said Steve Ahnen, president of the New Hampshire Hospital Association. "The residents of New Hampshire are counting on us."

The Foundation for Healthy Communities is a nonprofit corporation that exists to improve health and health care in New Hampshire. It's the leading organization in the state facilitating hospitals' quality and safety programs. The Foundation's partnerships include hospitals, health plans, clinicians, home care agencies, public policy leaders, and other health and social service organizations.

Hospitals have been collaborating through the New Hampshire Hospital Association since 1934. The Association's mission is to provide leadership through advocacy, education and information in support of its member hospitals and health care delivery systems in delivering high quality health care to the patients and communities they serve.

Contact: Andrea Alley, (603) 415-4255

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