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Louis Smith Memorial Hospital Wins Statewide Patient Safety Award

Posted on: January 17th, 2013


Cutline: (L-R) Louis Smith Memorial Hospital employees Vicki Dinkins, Human Resources Director; Tina Fountain, Emergency Department Nursing Director; Bill Wilson, Quality Officer; Georgia Hospital Association President Joe Parker; Tina Register, Personnel Coordinator; Joyce Roegge, Chief Nursing Officer; Neil Ginty, Administrator and Randy Patten, EMS Director and Safety Officer are all smiles after LSMH wins its eighth Quality and Patient Safety Award from the Georgia Hospital Association.

The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) presented its prestigious Quality and Patient Safety Award to Louis Smith Memorial Hospital in Lakeland for its project that reduced emergency patient transfer time. The project titled, “Gone in Sixty Minutes: Focus Truly Makes a Difference,” won first place in the Critical Access Hospitals Category. Louis Smith, an affiliate of South Georgia Medical Center, was also presented with a Circle of Excellence Award, an honor given to hospitals and health systems that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to quality and patient safety as evidenced by not only winning a patient safety award in 2012, but also by earning three or more PHA Patient Safety Awards within the previous five years.

In total, Louis Smith has received a total of eight previous awards. These annual awards recognize Georgia healthcare organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.“We have a tremendous commitment to our community and we want to provide the best care possible,” explains LSMH Administrator Neil Ginty. “As a 25-bed critical access hospital, we have limited capabilities in terms of trauma care and treating patients with serious medical conditions. Therefore, it is often necessary to transport patients to other hospitals in the region. Making sure patients are en-route to the receiving hospital within 60 minutes or less (the golden hour) increases the likelihood of favorable outcomes.”

Before the process improvement, data indicated that patients were transferred within the 60-minute window only 50 percent of the time. The opportunity to improve the transfer time became the background for this process improvement project. During data collection, staff discovered several obstacles causing delays. These challenges included reporting difficulties, beds not being available at the receiving hospitals, shortages of physicians willing to accept these patients, paper-based (as opposed to electronic) medical record preparation, ambulance availability and an overall lack of focus. To address the challenge, hospital staff applied the FOCUS-PDCA model, which is a methodology used to identify improvement opportunities and creates a systematic approach to implementing change.

The FOCUS (Find, Organize, Clarify, Understand, Select) phase helps narrow attention to one area of improvement while the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) phase carries out the necessary steps. After applying the FOCUS-PDCA model, results showed an 83 percent compliance rate in transporting patients in 60 minutes or less.“The importance of transporting patients to appropriate care within ‘the golden hour’ is significant because it saves lives,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Joseph Parker.

“We applaud Louis Smith Memorial 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 PHAThe Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), a subsidiary of GHA, was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities. About GHAEstablished 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.