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The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) presented two of its prestigious Quality and Patient Safety Awards to WellStar Cobb Hospital in Austell. The first award-winning project titled, “Optimization of Antimicrobial Stewardship: A Focus on Timely and Appropriate Initiation, Administration and De-escalation of Antibiotics,” won second place in the Hospitals with Greater than 300 Beds Category. The second award-winning project titled, “Project Re-Engineer Discharge: A Pathway to Excellence,” won third place in the same category.

WellStar Cobb was also presented with a Circle of Excellence Award, an honor given to hospitals and health systems that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to quality and patient safety as evidenced by not only winning a patient safety award in 2012, but also by earning three or more PHA Patient Safety Awards within the previous five years. These annual awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics contribute to antibiotic resistance, a major public health threat that contributes to increased costs and patient morbidity and mortality. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed a model for antimicrobial stewardship, which refers to coordinated interventions designed to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials. The goals of WellStar Cobb’s first project were to develop and test this model and share the information to encourage a commitment to antimicrobial stewardship throughout the health care community.

A multidisciplinary team consisting of infectious disease specialists, microbiology specialists, pharmacists and senior leadership identified areas of improvement and developed interventions. Changes were implemented and testing cycles were conducted to evaluate outcomes. For example, guidance in antibiotic prescribing increased the likelihood of successful de-escalation to decrease the risk of damage from continued broad spectrum antibiotic use. De-escalation is the practice of using strong antibiotics at the initial stages of treatment for a short period of time and then switching to a less powerful antibiotic once the infection is under control. Results showed improvement in antimicrobial stewardship measures, specifically timely initiation of antibiotics. Additionally, medical staff and other health care team members are more aware of the importance of antibiotic stewardship and the need to incorporate it into daily practice when caring for patients.

The second project improved the quality of patient discharges to optimize patient outcomes and prevent readmissions through Project Re-Engineer Discharge (RED) initiative. It is an evaluation of the discharge process and provides ways to reduce readmissions. The goals of the project were to reduce preventable readmissions for the congestive heart failure (CHF) patient population by 30 percent; increase patient and staff satisfaction with the discharge process; and achieve an overall reduction of readmissions for the whole patient population.

Using components of Project RED, including patient education and making sure the discharge plan aligned with national guidelines, the hospital achieved a 68 percent reduction in CHF patient readmissions. There was also a 64 percent increase in patient satisfaction and a 54 percent increase in staff satisfaction with regard to discharges.

“WellStar Cobb Hospital has taken the lead on two very important initiatives and has improved patient care,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Joseph Parker. “We applaud its successful efforts in the critical areas of antibiotic administration and readmission reduction and are grateful for its dedication to providing the best and safest care possible for its patients and community.”

About PHA
The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), a subsidiary of GHA, was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities.

About GHA
Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefitting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.