Tuality Joins National Initiative on Improving Hospital Quality of Care

November 12, 2010

For immediate release
Contact:  Gerry Ewing / 503-681-1654

Tuality Community Hospital is joining with 130 hospitals nationwide to pilot and test quality improvement strategies designed to reduce overcrowding in emergency departments (EDs) and lower the number of preventable hospital re-admissions.

The efforts are part of the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Hospital Quality Network, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and staffed by experts at The George Washington University.

The most documented cause of ED overcrowding nationwide is delay in hospital admission. The AF4Q “Increasing Throughout” program focuses on getting appropriate patients into inpatient beds more quickly. The effort requires involvement by staff, departments and leadership throughout the hospital.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics illustrate the problem. They show that the number of ED visits from 1996 to 2006 grew from 90.3 million to 119.2 million nationally while, at the same time, the number of hospital emergency facilities declined by 20 percent.

Overcrowded EDs mean longer wait times for care, causing more sick or injured people to leave without being seen, and increasing the risk for infections and other complications. The problem also often disrupts regional ambulance service.

The Increasing Throughput program goal for Tuality and all participating hospitals is to improve select emergency department performance measures by 15 percent from baseline by March 2012.

The “Reducing Readmissions” program focuses on meeting established guidelines for heart failure patients to improve quality of care and prevent the need for readmission.

Readmission of hospital patients is an expensive and often preventable issue. National data reveal that nearly 24.5 percent of Medicare patients admitted for chronic diseases will return to the hospital within 30 days, costing an estimated $12 to $17 billion a year for unnecessary care.

The goal is to reduce 30-day readmission rates following heart failure hospitalization by at least 20 percent from baseline measure by March 2012.

The AF4Q initiatives also focus strongly on improving care for ethnic groups. Both studies will measure patient data regarding race, ethnicity and primary language, and test strategies for increasing services and quality for these populations.

Tuality is one of 12 hospitals in Oregon working with The Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation, a non-profit organization that serves as the regional organizer for AF4Q.