The Central Texas Medical Center was recognized for excellence in patient safety with an award by the Adventist Hospital System during a conference in April.
The Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer Conference took place in Greensboro, Georgia where 14 other hospitals within the AHS were recognized for excelling in certain areas of quality patient care and safety.
As part of the AHS, the CTMC was awarded for having the lowest rate of hospital-acquired infections out of the 45 hospitals across the nation to comprise the AHS between May 2016 and April 2017.
“Each hospital has clinical metrics that must be achieved (infection prevention being one of them) that are accomplished through best practices based on evidence-based medicine,” Elsie Graves, chief nursing officer for CTMC, said. “But the focus is always improving the standard of care for our patients.”
Each of these metrics is measured on a monthly basis and averaged out at the end of the year, Graves said. In many areas, the CTMC received no counts of infections.
“Just to give one example, Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections, which can be fatal for patients, have been a concern in recent years,” Graves said. “Well, we’ve gone over three years without incident.”
Graves said multiple departments of the hospital keep in constant communication through regular reports and safety meetings to maintain the prevention systems in place.
In large part, these systems are put together by the infection preventionist at CTMC, Eileen Haag, a registered nurse of 20 years who has been with the hospital for over 10 years.
Haag’s responsibilities include developing infection prevention measures to reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections, which means creating standards applicable to not only patients in care but the employees, the families and visitors.
“Hospitals are complex systems made up of many people, so these systems involve everyone,” Haag said. “It involves ensuring all of our employees are safe and seeing what we can do to prevent occupational infection, which in turn prevents them from spreading infection.”
Examples of practices CTMC and other hospitals have in place range from hand hygiene to monitoring patients on antibiotics to proper maintenance of medical devices used on patients, such as catheters.
To keep up with latest trends in medicine, Haag said another way hospitals ensure practices are being used within their facilities are through conferences where the nation’s top practitioners come together to share research.
“Most recently, I attended an annual conference with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America in February, and last year I visited the Central for Disease Control to learn more about ways to prevent infection,” Haag said. “These conferences involve the leaders of our nation from some of the largest facilities in the country like John Hopkins. These are the people that are writing the best practices.”
Aside from infection prevention, other metrics CTMC excels include preventing re-admission and transfer of patients from the hospital to home.
The CTMC is a licensed 178-bed facility with over 700 employees primarily serving Hays County with secondary outreach to surrounding counties as well.