Atlanta, GA,
25
January
2024
|
13:46 PM
America/New_York

Shepherd Center Wins Statewide Patient Safety Awards

Award-winning project aims to improve care for patients with dysphagia.

GHA awardThe Georgia Hospital Association presented its prestigious Patient Safety and Quality Award to Shepherd Center in Atlanta for its project that improved patient safety in the hospital. The project “Shaken or Stirred? - A Multidisciplinary Process Improvement to Ensure Patients Receive Compliant-Thickened Liquids,” won first place in the Specialty Hospitals category.

These annual awards recognize Georgia healthcare organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

“At Shepherd Center, we see many patients who have sustained brain injuries, either from accidents or other causes,” says Jill Newsome RD, LD, clinical nutrition manager at Shepherd Center, who led the project. “After someone has had a stroke, brain injury, or has been on a ventilator, they might have trouble swallowing, a condition which is called dysphagia. Our speech-language pathologists (SLP) and physicians suggest changes to the consistency of liquids by prescribing gel thickener packets that can make swallowing easier and safer for each patient.”  

The goal of the project was to achieve zero incidence of patients receiving non-compliant liquid consistencies. Newsome and her team discovered that knowledge gaps and process breakdowns existed across multiple disciplines regarding ordering, storing, accessing, and ensuring that patients receive compliant liquids during mealtimes. There also was a lack of automatic triggers and visual cues to address potential defects.

To address these challenges, Meena Iyer, MSIE, LSSBB, CPHQ, manager of quality and outcomes management at Shepherd Center, facilitated a project to enhance the entire process of ordering and administering compliant liquids. Newsome initiated the project using the FOCUS Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) as part of the newly started Quality Improvement Champions Program (QCIP). The team was able to understand the end-to-end process while identifying gaps and causes of defects.

“Apart from streamlining the process and strengthening education, several visual cues were also implemented as a solution to ensure that patients are receiving compliant liquids during mealtimes and beyond,” Newsome says. “With this structure and process measures in place, we have seen zero incidences of patients receiving non-compliant liquids in the past six months.”

Shepherd 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 2023, but by earning three or more PHA Patient Safety Awards within the previous five years.

“We are pleased to honor Shepherd Center for their innovative approach to improving patient safety,” says Georgia Hospital Association President and CEO Caylee Noggle. “Their efforts have improved the health and wellness of the community, and we thank them for their important work in this area.”

Shepherd 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 2023, but by earning three or more PHA Patient Safety Awards within the previous five years. 

Award-Winning Project Team
(left to right): Meena Iyer, Ronda Graham, Craig Andrews, Joycelyn Saxon, Jill Newsome, Melissa Kast, Karen Patterson, Charles Ferrell, Rodney Adams

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again. 

About GHA

Founded in 1929, GHA serves nearly 150 hospitals in Georgia and promotes the health and welfare of the public through the development of better hospital care for all Georgia’s citizens. The mission of GHA is to advance the health of individuals and communities by serving as the leading advocate for all Georgia hospitals and health care systems. GHA represents its members before the General Assembly and Congress, as well as state and federal regulatory agencies, and is an allied member of the American Hospital Association. For more information, please call 770-249-4500 or visit gha.org.