News | April 20, 2008

San Francisco Area Hospitals Collaborate to Reduce Hospital Errors

April 21, 2008 - The Beacon Collaborative, a voluntary affiliation of 39 hospitals in five San Francisco Bay area counties, said today that reductions in the occurrence of two major types of hospital infections between April 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007 saved approximately 194 lives.

The estimate of lives saved is based on a statistical analysis of mortality for ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP), and central line-associated bloodstream infections (CL-BSI), two infections that frequently occur in hospital intensive care units.

During the 21-month study period, hospitals participating in the collaborative reduced VAP by 60 percent and CL-BSI by 66 percent. This resulted in 720 fewer infections than projected during the study period. The VAP improvement exceeds the best results reported by the National Healthcare Safety Network for 2006. The CL-BSI improvement meets or exceeds results reported in December 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine for the Keystone Center for Patient Safety and Quality in Michigan.

Nationally, VAP accounts for more than 35,000 annual deaths, at a cost of $9,969 per infection, and CL-BSI is estimated to result in 10,000 to 21,000 deaths per year, at a cost of $36,441 per infection. Based on the Beacon analysis, the 120 lives saved by reducing VAP saved about $1.2 million, and the 74 lives saved by reducing CL-BSI infections saved approximately $2.7 million.

“The bay area is becoming a national model of patient safety and Beacon has emerged as one of the primary resources and catalysts for hospitals committed to reducing VAP and CL-BSI infections, as well as other hospital related errors or conditions,” said Bruce Spurlock, M.D., Beacon’s executive director. “We constantly hear from hospital quality leaders how Beacon-sponsored collaboration with peers in the same geographic area, serving similar patient populations, enables them to learn from each other and adapt best practices, even though the hospitals themselves often compete fiercely for market share within their communities.”

In addition to VAP and CL-BSI, Beacon hospitals select from 10 other initiatives to track progress, compare results against Beacon-wide averages, and share the evidence-based tools and techniques needed to reduce errors that often lead to injury or death. Results for individual hospitals are confidential and do not generally include enough cases for valid comparison with overall, aggregated collaborative results.

The other initiatives are: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, medication reconciliation, rapid response teams, surgical care improvement, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), high-alert medication harm prevention, hospital-acquired pressure ulcer prevention, stroke and sepsis. Most hospitals are working on six or more initiatives.

Beacon also announced today a new $6 million, three-year grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF). The funding enables Beacon to continue innovative efforts to accelerate quality improvement and prevention of harm to the more than 450,000 patients admitted each year to its participating hospitals. Originally known as the Bay Area Patient Safety Collaborative, the effort was renamed Beacon Collaborative when GBMF provided nearly $2 million in April 2007 for the second phase of the collaborative’s work.

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