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Federally funded program helps N.J. hospitals reduce infections, other preventable complications

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Aline Holmes, director of NJHA’s Institute for Quality and Patient Safety.
Aline Holmes, director of NJHA’s Institute for Quality and Patient Safety. - (NJHA)

Last year, New Jersey hospitals avoided more than $100 million in costs and more than 9,000 adverse events, such as falls and infections, by taking part in a national patient safety program, according to the Partnership for Patients-New Jersey initiative, a federally funded program led by the New Jersey Hospital Association.

NJHA said last year the 63 hospitals in the program achieved a 32.2 percent average reduction in “hospital acquired conditions,” or complications that can arise during a hospital stay — like post-surgical infections and medical errors. The hospitals also achieved an 8.7 percent decrease in the rate of patients readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of a prior hospital stay.

“These numbers are impressive,” said Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. “The NJHA has a strong track record of facilitating quality improvement among New Jersey hospitals.”

Partnership for Patients-New Jersey is funded by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  In 2012, CMS selected New Jersey as one of the 27 hospital networks nationwide for the hospital improvement program. NJHA said based on New Jersey’s success, CMS extended NJHA’s contract through 2014.

By comparing the actual rate of adverse events to the industry’s expected rates, the program estimated that New Jersey hospitals avoided 9,206 adverse events that would have created $100 million in additional costs.

NJHA Chief Executive Betsy Ryan said, “We have hospitals across the state working with NJHA, with each other and with national experts to implement best practices, and then share and compare their results. It has resulted in care that is better for the health care system, and most importantly, better for the 18 million individuals served by New Jersey hospitals each year.”

Aline Holmes, director of NJHA’s Institute for Quality and Patient Safety, said the program has helped deliver “care that is better and safer with fewer complications and faster recoveries.

“We’ve made tremendous strides in our state, but there’s always room for additional improvement, and we remain very focused on that goal.”

Linda Schwimmer, vice president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, said Holmes, "is a true leader in patient safety. Her work through the Partnership for Patients has been tremendous and is succeeding in improving health outcomes.  Given that (nationwide) roughly 200,000 to 400,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors, hospital safety is a huge problem that needs an all hands on deck approach. This initiative promotes a culture of safety which is essential to improvement."

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Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald

Beth Fitzgerald reports on health care, small business and higher education. She joined NJBIZ in 2008 after a 34-year career at the Star-Ledger and has been reporting on business in New Jersey since 1978. Her email is beth@njbiz.com and she is @bethfitzgerald8 on Twitter.

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