MultiCare Health System

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Patient Safety Initiatives


MultiCare actively participates in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's (IHI) landmark life-saving 100,000 Lives and 5 Million Lives campaigns.

In 2006, IHI reported more than 122,000 lives were saved as a result of this campaign, which focused on six proven life-saving measures.

Locally, our innovative approaches to treating heart attack patients and preventing infections are saving lives right here in our community and earning national awards.

IHI initiatives continue today at our hospitals.

These life-saving interventions are:
Deliver reliable, evidence-based care for Acute Myocardial Infarction: The national standard for time to treatment of a heart attack (the amount of time that passes between when the patient arrives at the hospital until they are stabilized) is 90 minutes. MultiCare consistently exceeds the national standards for prompt treatment of heart attacks.

Prevent adverse drug events - medication reconciliation: Medication reconciliation means that all the medicines patients receive while they are in the hospital are accurately tracked during the entire treatment. Our system-wide electronic health record system, MultiCare Connect, helps ensure that patients are receiving the correct medications and that medications given together are done so safely.

Prevent central line infections: A central line is a long, thin, flexible tube used to give medicine and fluids, inserted through a vein in the neck or chest and threaded through until it reaches a large vein near the heart. Central lines are usually left in for days or weeks and can make it possible for serious infections to enter the patient's body and threaten the patient's life. MultiCare follows a rigorous preventive program that has dramatically reduced the rate of these types of infections since 2004.

Prevent surgical site infections: An infection at the site of surgery is a common complication in hospitals. MultiCare has implemented a number of specific protocols for our surgical staff to follow to reduce the incidence of post-surgical infections. These protocols include eliminating the use of blade razors for surgical site preparation and the careful administration of pre- and post-surgery antibiotics. CMS also has selected MultiCare as one of 12 hospitals in Washington to participate in its Surgical Care Improvement Project, which will provide more opportunities to learn from other hospitals and accelerate our improvement efforts.

Prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) Patients on ventilators may develop ventilator-assisted pneumonia VAP. By aggressively adhering to IHI's guidelines designed to prevent VAP, MultiCare has seen a steady decline in the VAP rate over the last three years.

Deploy Rapid Response Teams Rapid Response Teams are a group of experts who bring critical care expertise to patients outside of MultiCare's critical care units. These teams may be called by any care provider or family member who becomes concerned about a sudden change in a patient's health or vital signs, or even if it just appears that the patient "doesn't look right." These teams empower care providers and families to call in immediate, critical care for a patient, and have helped MultiCare realize a significant drop in cardiac arrest incidents outside of critical care settings.

Improve clinical outcomes with community-acquired pneumonia and heart failure (CMS): These conditions commonly require hospitalization, can be fatal, and can also complicate the care of patients who are hospitalized for other conditions. Preventive care and lifestyle changes, such as receiving immunizations against pneumonia and influenza, diet and exercise changes, and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes can reduce the need for hospitalization for these conditions.

The success of the 100,000 Lives campaign led IHI to launch the 5 Million Lives campaign in December 2006, adding additional life-saving measures to protect patients from five million incidents of medical harm over the next two years.

Using the first six interventions, plus six new improvements in care, IHI aims to save more lives, reduce medically related injuries and enroll more hospitals to join in this effort.

For more information about these campaigns, and additional details on the 12 improvements in care, visit IHI's web site,

The six new interventions targeted at preventing harm are:
  • Prevent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection by reliably implementing scientifically proven infection control practices throughout the hospital.
  • Reduce harm from high-alert medications starting with a focus on anticoagulants, sedatives, narcotics and insulin.
  • Reduce surgical complications by reliably implementing the changes in care recommended by the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP).
  • Prevent pressure ulcers by reliably using science-based guidelines for prevention of this serious and common complication.
  • Deliver reliable, evidence-based care for congestive heart failure to reduce readmissions.
  • Get hospital boards involved and engaged by defining and implementing new and leveraged processes.