May, 2013

Patient Scorecard Not Reflective of Our Care

Jim Nathan For Lee Memorial Health System, patient safety is our No. 1 core value, our overriding focus as we deliver the highest quality care every day and night. This is very different from making patient safety a "priority" because an organization's priorities can change over time. Our goal is to be among the safest health care systems in the nation.

We have made great strides and have earned national recognition as a patient safety leader in the years since we embarked on our system-wide cultural transformation to ensure that all employees, physicians and volunteers do the right things right the first time, every time in order to keep every patient free from harm. During our cultural transformation, our entire team has shown great passion and commitment to collaboration, communication and improved processes. We recognize and appreciate our team's hard work, diligence and commitment to safety.

Recent news articles have reported results from a patient safety scorecard issued by the Leapfrog Group—a Washington-based nonprofit patient advocacy group. This scorecard is intended to grade hospitals on safety and prevention of avoidable injuries and injections. Our hospitals' average score was a "C." We do not believe these results accurately portray the reality of safety in our four acute care hospitals. The data used to compile the results was outdated and did not include the extensive patient safety behaviors and strong patient safety habits developed over the years.

We have worked very hard to build a culture of safety, based on a commitment to transparency, collaboration, mutual accountability, recognition and professional respect. We have implemented processes and standards that have helped us reduce serious safety events to 1.2 in 100,000 adjusted patient days and we have dramatically reduced infections in our intensive care units, with many of them going for months without various types of infections.

We no longer think just of our individual roles as nurses, doctors, housekeepers, lab technicians, pharmacists, accountants and more. We know that we are all safety officers whose most important mission is to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors, volunteers and each other. Our mantra is, "Patient safety begins with you and me and ends in zero." We work toward that every day and every night. Our health system's culture is one of collaboration, and not just between our team members, but also with our patients, their families and visitors. You—our patients—are our partners in care and there is a definite need for patient and family participation. We always want our patients and their families to understand, communicate with the care team and to feel empowered in the care process.

We know that patient safety is a work in progress. As we move forward, we look ahead to more improvements, especially this summer's installation of Epic—our electronic health record system—at HealthPark Medical Center, Lee Memorial Hospital and our outpatient centers. We are confident that we will leverage this technology to further improve patient safety throughout the health system—from primary care to specialists to hospital to outpatient centers and to homes.

Unfortunately, this Leapfrog Group report—with various inaccuracies—was released and shared via a variety of media. Please do not be disheartened. We know that Lee Memorial Health System is a safer place today than it was yesterday and will be safer tomorrow than it is today because of our commitment to safety. The safety and best interest of our patients is at the forefront of everything we do every day and night.

We are blessed with a team of more than 10,000 professionals and 4,500 volunteers and auxilians who are committed to providing the highest quality, leading edge, compassionate and safe care for our community—they truly are caring people, caring for people.


Jim Nathan

Jim Nathan

President, Lee Memorial Health System

We are Lee Memorial Health System: Caring People, Caring For People.

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