EDITORIAL: Hospitals band together for safety 

Jul 08

Patient safety in Lake and Porter counties is getting a boost from the creation of a new group aiming to standardize practices.

The Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition has been formed by the Community Healthcare System, The Methodist Hospitals, Porter Health and the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc. It is modeled after similar programs in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend.

These partnerships for patient care are the wave of the future, and that's as it should be.

The participating hospitals "put aside our competitive juices in the name of quality patient care," said Tom Gryzbek, president of St. Margaret Mercy Hospitals in Hammond and Dyer. Gryzbek is head of the IHA's Northwestern District.

One of the projects the Indiana Hospital Association and the patient safety coalitions are working on is the result of a presentation by a group of undergraduate nursing students at Purdue University Calumet. Those four students -- now new graduates -- analyzed how the existing color-coded system of wristbands could be adapted to reduce patient care errors.

"A purple wristband at one hospital may mean DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), while in another hospital the purple wristband could mean 'don't use this extremity,'" said Rhonda McKay, vice president for patient care and chief nursing officer with Community Healthcare Systems.

The new coalition is working on standardization efforts that include:

  • Surgical instruments and sponge-count policies.
  • Precautions to guard against infections.
  • Patient education campaign focused on medication lists.
  • Emergency codes.
  • Guidelines for care while patients are in emergency rooms waiting for bed placement.

Standardization can make it easier to nurses and others to quickly get up to speed when they transfer between hospitals. This coalition's work could save patients' lives.

The formation of the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition is a major advance in health care.

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