Patient in blue pneumoboot learns how it prevents thromboembolism.The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) honored Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare with its Patient Safety Improvement Award for 2016.

Gillette was praised for our leadership in patient safety because of our ongoing commitment to partnering with patients and families, collaborating with one another and other organizations, and infusing continual improvement into our culture.

That culture of patient safety improvement is seen in ongoing efforts to minimize or eliminate those things that sometimes develop while a patient is in the hospital and prolong a hospital stay. We call them “hospital acquired conditions,” and every health care organization works to reduce them.

To focus on hospital safety, we started nine teams that each look at a specific condition. Those nine teams first came together in 2013, when Gillette joined the Children’s Hospitals Solutions for Patient Safety (CHSPS) collaborative. Nurses lead or co-lead each team, while others serve as active team members. Gillette is one of only several children’s hospitals to tackle all nine conditions immediately upon joining the collaborative.

Gillette participation in CHSPS brought an opportunity for nurses to develop a risk assessment tool for patients.Two years ago, Gillette didn’t formally track or conduct risk assessments for a condition known as venous thromboembolism—essentially a blood clot. “Historically, the pediatric population wasn’t considered at significant risk,” says critical care nurse Jenny Bucka. “More recently, research began finding children and adolescents were increasingly developing these clots.”

Gillette participation in CHSPS brought an opportunity for nurses to develop a risk assessment tool for patients.

“We took the tool from the adult world and tailored it to our pediatric population,” explains Bucka. “We’ve made it our own. It’s evolved as we’ve realized what works best for our patients.”

Nurses in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit—whose patients have the highest risk for developing a venous thromboembolism—piloted the tool in February 2014. It expanded to other medical units and eventually became part of our electronic medical record.

“Developing any hospital acquired condition can mean the difference between another day on the ventilator, more time in the hospital, or increased medications,” adds Bucka. “So we really have to be engaged. Our patient safety initiatives have made everyone feel like they’re part of the improvement process.”

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