The Tennessee Center for Patient Safety (TCPS), a department of the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA), works with hospitals across the state to improve safety, quality and efficiency. To support health systems, which continually strive to improve processes and patient outcomes, TCPS launched a program in 2017 to share success stories with other hospitals in Tennessee and with a larger national group participating in a Health Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN).
Most recently, TCPS has spotlighted the impressive work by Henry County Medical Center (HCMS) to stop the spread of the potentially deadly Clostridium difficile (C. diff.). The HCMS success story is being shared with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the 31 other state organizations participating in the THA HIIN, and statewide hospital leaders looking for effective solutions to address C. diff. in their own facilities.
“It’s important to communicate success stories from the front lines of the healthcare delivery system so that other hospitals might see what has worked well for peer facilities facing similar challenges,” explained Patrice Mayo, vice president for operations for the TCPS. “It speaks highly of the collegial nature of our healthcare industry that hospitals are willing and eager to share best practices in an effort to improve quality, patient safety, and clinical outcomes for all Tennesseans.”
According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, C. diff is responsible for nearly 500,000 infections among patients in the United States annually, making it the most frequent microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in American hospitals. Of those with an initial diagnosis of C. diff, about 29,000 died within 30 days, and 15,000 deaths were estimated to be directly attributable to the bacterial infection. Older Americans are disproportionately impacted by C. diff with more than 80 percent of deaths associated with the HAI occurring in patients aged 65 and over. Additionally, the infection has been linked to as much as $4.8 billion in extra healthcare costs for hospitals.
Although HCMC already had C. diff. rates consistently below their peers, the team – under the leadership of Jacqueline O’Brien, MSN, RN, CIC – believed they could do even better by applying a series of best practices. O’Brien, who joined the staff in early 2017 and is certified in infection control and epidemiology, began working with staff to attack the HAI on multiple fronts.
“We have been at zero cases of C. diff for close to two years, with only two months that had a spike,” O’Brien noted. “Our numbers are so low that even one case spikes the rate,” she explained, adding those slight increases also serve as a reminder that C. diff is an ongoing threat.
“We, at HCMC, are patient-focused, have safety in mind, and want our community to be healthy. We are glad to participate in initiatives that continue to ‘Grow Us Forward’ in reaching these goals,” stated HCMC CEO Lisa Casteel, referencing the hospital’s commitment to continued growth and improvement.
Please see HCMC success story for more details on the hospital’s initiative to defeat C. diff – Henry County Defeating CDiff