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Hospitals seeks to eliminate preventable infections, reduce cost of care

In an effort to reduce avoidable deaths, patient harm and health care costs, all 65 acute care hospitals in South Carolina have agreed to work toward eliminating preventable health-care-associated infections (HAIs)  to improve patient care and safely reduce associated costs.
Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) and the Premier Healthcare Alliance on Feb. 4 announced the formation of the South Carolina Healthcare Quality Trust (SC HQT), a unique and voluntary partnership that could become a national model.
The state’s largest research universities and health care systems are working through the SC HQT and HSSC to utilize evidence based best practices, research and development to establish and share new methods to eliminate preventable infections.
Primary partners include MUSC and MUHA, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina; the systems of Greenville Hospital, Palmetto Health and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare.
“We all know someone whose life has been altered, sometimes permanently, by a preventable health-care-associated infection,” said Jay Moskowitz, HSSC president and CEO. “Through this collaborative, we will use our state’s best researchers to determine the causes of specific infections. We will test the solutions in our state’s four largest health systems, which today treat about 30 percent of all patients; and share the best practices, products and services that result with all 65 of the state’s acute care hospitals. We believe this approach has the potential to make our state’s hospitals safer for patients, families and employees, while making our state a national model for healthcare quality.”   The SC HQT also plans to address both acute and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart and vascular diseases, in the future.
“Health-care-associated infections are a serious threat to patient health and safety in all hospitals, and they add significantly to the cost of care. South Carolina hospitals are not immune to this problem, but they are working on all fronts to identify and eradicate preventable infections,” said Thornton Kirby, SCHA president. “We anticipate that this groundbreaking partnership between SCHA, Health Sciences of South Carolina and Premier will bring the latest research and best practice information to every hospital bed in the state.”
In 2006, SCHA worked with legislators on the state’s Hospital Infections Disclosure Act, which requires hospitals to report certain categories of infections to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Last year DHEC published preliminary numbers on its Web site. The association also has a public Web site, that provides validated hospital-specific performance data.

Using technology, sharing information
A special information-sharing portal will be developed for all South Carolina hospitals to research the causes of HAIs, and to identify and promote existing and new processes for prevention. Hospitals will be able to track their improvement against state and national benchmarks via the Performance Improvement Portal, Premier’s knowledge exchange community of more than 1,500 health care experts nationwide, to develop and share best practices and knowledge on effective strategies for combating HAIs.
“Through the SC HQT, we are developing an approach to eliminating HAIs using evidence-based best practices,” said Premier CEO Susan DeVore. “By measuring performance against state and national benchmarks, the SC HQT will work to become a national model for health care quality improvement that every state can utilize to efficiently focus resources and improve the health of their communities.”

Friday, Feb. 27, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.