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Health Center receives high scores for cardiac care

by Kristina Goodnough - September 26, 2005

Nearly every patient admitted to John Dempsey Hospital for heart attack or heart failure receives the correct medical evaluation and treatment, according to the most recent Hospital Performance Comparisons released recently by the state Department of Public Health.

Patients received the correct care 100 percent of the time on seven out of 10 treatments evaluated by the state. These include, for instance, receiving aspirin on arrival, being given an ACE inhibitor when discharged, and receiving information on stopping smoking. In all but one case, the Health Center scores exceed both state and national medians, the report says.

“The high scores are the result, in part, of our emphasis on the fundamentals of good medicine – that is, knowing what works based on research, educating all involved diligently, and then reminding and seeing to it that all practice these fundamentals,” says Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the center.

Patient safety rounds ensure systematic review of the non-surgical patients’ care and treatment. “Three times a week, we bring together the attending physicians, residents, nursing staff, social worker, and discharge planners,” says Dr. Mark Metersky, professor of medicine, who helped develop the rounds. “We talk about the needs of each patient and review the treatment to make sure it is appropriate and complete.”

The Calhoun Cardiology Center and the Continuing Medical Education Office of the School of Medicine also jointly sponsor a series of cardiovascular symposia, conferences, and Grand Rounds, which “facilitate the educational effort at implementing the measures needed to achieve these quality outcomes,” says Liang.

Dr. Steven Strongwater, director of clinical affairs for John Dempsey Hospital, says it is “important to remember that we are trying to impact an extremely complex system. On average, for a general admission, 60 people have contact with a patient, and most of these people work with a high degree of independence. Our goal is to ensure that the performance of all our health care professionals is governed by a commitment to the best practices as determined by scientific evidence.”

The hospital performance data are collected by the federal Department of Health and Human Services under a program called Hospital Compare, which is designed to improve hospital performance over time and give consumers a way to compare hospital quality.

The comparisons cover 10 treatments considered essential for most patients suffering from heart attack or heart failure, based on empirical data from clinical trials and scientific research.

The state Department of Public Health releases the data for Connecticut hospitals in a report updated and published periodically throughout the year. The government also collects data on treatment for pneumonia, and will add additional measures over time.

“We’re extremely pleased with our results,” says Rhea Sanford, co-director of the Collaborative Center for Clinical Care Improvement, which is charged with improving patient safety at the Health Center. “We believe they clearly demonstrate our commitment to relying on empirical data from clinical trials and research as the basis for medical interventions.”

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