We held our annual Leapfrog Quality Briefing last week. In advance of the event, we asked every hospital CEO or senior quality officer to identify their quality and safety team members so we could recognize and celebrate them. The 293 hospital professionals we honored have been working throughout the pandemic, have modified protocols as needed, and have still remained focused on improving patient safety and quality. We are awed by them and grateful for their commitment.
The virtual gathering was a celebration of their work and also provided a safe space to share both successes and challenges in the efforts to advance quality. Over 230 hospital quality and safety team members and other hospital leadership joined us for the virtual gathering.
We shared best practices and provided an update from Leapfrog on changes in the 2022 Leapfrog Hospital and ASC Safety Survey. We focused on two main topics from the Survey, hand hygiene and health equity. Indeed, unclean hands are one of the primary ways that pathogens spread throughout a health care environment. Those caring for patients must properly clean their hands. Moreover, there is no health care quality without equity. Equitable treatment is a critical component of a high quality, safe health care environment.
On hand hygiene, here are a few highlights:
- The COVID-19 pandemic reminded everyone of the importance of hand hygiene in infection control.
- Given the high volume of patients and intensity of care at times, hand hygiene was challenging but become an engrained team effort. Staff reminded each other even when hands were red and rough from constant washing.
- Enhancing and optimizing a hand hygiene system requires assembling the right team, across all disciplines, early in the process.
- Health facilities are moving toward hand hygiene electronic monitoring systems. Health care leaders said the data collected must be used in a way that supports staff members and patients, and that electronic monitoring can provide insight into a facility’s overall system of hand hygiene.
On health equity, the panelists agreed that they are at the beginning of their journey on collecting, verifying, and using self-identified data on race, ethnicity, preferred language, and sexual orientation. Last year Leapfrog asked hospitals to report on their health equity activities. This year, the survey responses will be publicly reported.
Missy Danforth, Vice President of Health Care Ratings at The Leapfrog Group, explained to the attendees that while Leapfrog recognizes the breadth of the issues surrounding health care disparities and social risk factors, Leapfrog is asking them to focus and report on disparities within their own facilities. “We are focusing on things that happen to patients once they are in the hospital,” Danforth told those attending the breakfast. Danforth also outlined:
- In 2021, Leapfrog added a new set of unscored questions to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and ACS Survey. The questions focused on collection of self-identified data on race, ethnicity, primary language, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
- The survey asks if hospitals have stratified the data, and if they have evaluated it to improve quality.
- Significant refinements to the questions will be published in early March after interviews with hospital safety leaders led Leapfrog to clarify questions.
The expansion of the Leapfrog survey will further engage hospitals in the important work of addressing health equity. Hospitals, and others in health care, can best address health inequities by having the data to provide insight on where they need to improve.
In New Jersey, we have 100 percent participation in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey — a commitment to transparency that translates into a focus on safer hospitals for patients. Now we must move into gathering a better understanding of how performance on the safety measures breaks out by demographic data; where there are inequities; and on the need for action to address them.
I want to thank the panel participants at the briefing: Eloise Valencia, MSN, RN, APN-BC, CIC, manager of the Infection Prevention program at Chilton Medical Center, Atlantic Health System; Amy Mansue, President and Chief Executive Officer of Inspira Health; and David May, MD, MBA, FACS, Vice President and Chief Quality & Safety Officer at Jefferson Health.
Please check out and share our list of 293 Garden State Leaders in Hospital Safety and Quality.