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Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Recognized Among Safest in Nation

Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Recognized Among Safest in Nation

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Sponsored Content
Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is recognized in the top ten percent of acute care hospitals in the United States for patient safety, based on reporting that measured the rates of hospital-acquired infection and pressure-related injuries, two of the most important factors in patient safety.
Submitted photo

Keeping patients safe from preventable complications while they receive care inside our nation’s hospitals has become an area of focus for health care providers across the country in recent years.

At Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, such efforts have long been a priority. Now, SNMH is achieving clinical outcomes that place it among the very best in the nation for their efforts to keep patients safe.

Recent comparison of outcomes at SNMH to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services benchmarks place SNMH in the top ten percent of acute care hospitals in the United States based on reported rates of hospital-acquired infection and pressure-related injuries, two of the most important factors in patient safety.

“We are proud that SNMH has safety outcomes that rank alongside the best hospitals in the country,” says Scott Neeley, MD, SNMH President and CEO. “Most important for us is that we are continuously improving and that we are a team that is always identifying ways to get better and ways to deliver better care to those who come to us in need. That is what a culture of safety is really all about.”

The term “patient safety” can encompass a variety of factors, including medication errors, hospital-acquired infection, falls causing injuries, and pressure injuries to the skin (often occurring when patients are bedridden).

“Unfortunately, events like this are common in hospitals across the country,” Dr. Neeley explains. “Those of us who have been in health care for many years originally were trained with the notion that most of these events were simply ‘known complications’ and were unavoidable. During the last 20 years, we have learned that it is possible to prevent a tremendous amount of harm to patients and to significantly improve outcomes for our patients.”

While patient safety at SNMH has always been a top priority, recently Dr. Neeley and his team intensified their focus, believing they could do even better.

“We made the determination that, while our efforts to date had been robust and determined, we could do better,” he explains. “As a result, we have committed to a goal of eliminating all avoidable complications. To support that goal, we adopted a systematic program of education and continuous improvement that is referred to as High Reliability Organizing.”

SNMH’s High Reliability Organizing (HRO) system includes education for all employees and providers about tools and approaches to teamwork that can prevent harm as well as adoption of methods of careful scrutiny of events to determine ways that harm can be avoided in the future. HRO relies on every employee and health care provider prioritizing safety first and consistently using a common set of tools to achieve exceptional results for every patient.

“An excellent example of the types of changes we are talking about is the use of standard checklists whenever high-risk care is occurring,” Dr. Neeley explains. “These checklists are the same tools that pilots use in aviation to ensure that all systems are go for every plane leaving the ground. The adoption of this simple but powerful tool in health care has resulted in tremendous benefit to patients.”

Through this intense work, the hospital has seen a more than 80% reduction in harm associated with medical error — those are events in which an error or deviation from accepted practice results in a change in the patient’s condition requiring additional or escalated care.

This has meant a dramatic decrease in complications previously believed to be unavoidable.

“We have seen a very significant reduction in hospital-acquired infections and pressure injuries,” Dr. Neeley says. “These infections, such as blood stream infections associated with IV catheters, are a major source of concern and can even be fatal. We have achieved reductions in the incidence of all of these types of infection, and in many areas we rank among the top hospitals in the country.”

Dr. Neeley says SNMH’s patient safety commitment and accomplishments mean that every patient can be confident that the entire hospital team is committed to ensuring the care they are receiving at SNMH has never been safer.

“Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is united by a single purpose — to provide exceptional, high-quality care to the people of Nevada County,” he says. “This has always been our commitment, and I am grateful for every member of our team, each of whom works tirelessly to serve our patients and community.”

Dr. Neeley is grateful to the community for trusting their health and the health of their loved ones to him and his team.

“We are a hospital that was founded by our community and that exists solely to improve the health of our community — we know that is our purpose and our entire team is determined to deliver that,” he says. “It is truly an honor for all of us to serve our neighbors here in Nevada County. We want those we serve to know that we understand our purpose, and that is to always provide safe and exceptional care with dignity and humankindness to every person who comes to us in need. That is our commitment.”


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