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New Hampshire Hospitals are Committed to Keeping Patients Safe

March 8, 2011

Steve Ahnen, President
New Hampshire Hospital Association

Monday, March 6 marked the beginning of National Patient Safety Awareness Week. In New Hampshire, every week and every day is dedicated toward continually enhancing the care that the thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and other caregivers provide to our patients. Providing health care in a safe, compassionate environment is the fundamental foundation on which every hospital's commitment and mission is built.

Caregivers in New Hampshire's hospitals consistently rank as the best in the nation in providing care to those we serve. Since 2004, every hospital has measured how well it provides the care that is scientifically proven to increase the chance for better outcomes in patients who have heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia and who undergo surgery. The information for all hospitals is available to anyone who logs onto www.NHQualityCare.org. Every New Hampshire hospital's scores have improved dramatically over the past five years, and our state has held a consistent #1 national ranking by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since the information has been widely shared.

This achievement is no doubt due in part to a long history of successful collaboration among hospitals, doctors, nurses and other caregivers, as well as a deep sense of trust when it comes to sharing best practices. The dedicated doctors and nurses who take care of you, your loved ones, friends and neighbors understand that working together and learning from each other will make care better and safer for all those who need it in New Hampshire.

Hospitals in New Hampshire continue down that path with even greater ambition under their first-in-the-nation "Eliminate Harm" initiative. New Hampshire is the only state in the country where the CEO and the chair of the board for all 26 acute care hospitals have signed a resolution committing their hospital to participate in an effort to Eliminate Harm by 2015. The goal of this statewide collaboration, spearheaded by the New Hampshire Hospital Association (NHHA) and the Foundation for Healthy Communities (FHC), is to eliminate instances of patient harm which could have been prevented if the processes known to improve patient safety had been implemented and followed. This is the cornerstone of New Hampshire hospitals' strategy for improving quality of care.

In recent years, the Foundation for Healthy Communities has launched a series of other statewide efforts to make care better and safer. These include standardizing color-coded wristbands, increasing hand hygiene rates among health care workers, adopting a patient safety checklist, preventing blood stream infections, and our newest statewide initiative to eliminate potentially deadly blood clots, known in the medical world as venous thromboembolic (VTE) disease. Information about all of these initiatives is available online at www.nhha.org and www.healthyNH.com.

With every hospital board chair and CEO resolved to support the Eliminate Harm promise, our state has achieved an extraordinary level of commitment which serves as a model for the rest of the country. The men and women who work in New Hampshire's hospitals dedicate themselves to making sure every patient gets the right care, at the right time, in the right place…every time. The citizens of New Hampshire are counting on that.

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