From the board room to the bed side, parents are involved in the care and experience their children receive at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

Parents are members of more than 30 different hospital committees and safety project teams, as well as serving on the hospital governing board’s quality and safety committee. They helped develop patient safety curriculum and implement the hospital’s patient safety initiative, “Target Zero: Eliminating Preventable Harm.” The program has contributed to a 30% reduction in hospital-acquired conditions and a 50% reduction in serious safety events – cases of preventable patient harm or death – during the past two years.  

“We teach and almost preach the mantra that the patient and family are the center of our health care team,” says Dan Hyman, M.D., the hospital’s chief quality and patient safety officer. “We make sure we have the voice of the family in all our decision making, whether it’s about an individual child or a strategic program.”

For its commitment to improving the quality of care and patient safety through leadership and innovation, the hospital July 23 received the 2015 AHA-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize at the Health Forum-AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco. The price recognizes hospitals that are making impressive strides toward the Institute of Medicine’s six quality aims of safe, effective, efficient, timely, patient-centered and equitable health care.

Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., received a finalist prize; and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Ind., received Citations of Merit.

The Quest for Quality Prize “reflects the dedication and commitment of our entire staff, the passionate involvement of our parents who are champions of patient safety, and of the investment from our community that supports our quest to provide the absolute best care for our patients,” said Jena Hausmann, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Colorado.

More than 6,000 providers and staff members work in Children’s Hospital Colorado and care for thousands of children every year. They have been trained in a set of safety practices designed to reduce the likelihood of their committing errors, and make the system more likely to catch an error before it harms a patient. Those practices emphasize clear communication, a questioning attitude and “double-checking” procedures, according to Hyman.

“We have example after example of staff members who have stopped peers, colleagues, people who would normally be thought of as being more senior in the hierarchy because they were concerned that an error might be happening, and they have prevented harm from occurring on numerous occasions,” he says.

The hospital in 2010 began taking photographs of every child who entered the hospital for treatment. That way, when doctors electronically ordered tests or medications for patients, they could look at the child’s photograph on the computer screen and make sure they were ordering the right tests for the right patient.

 “It’s a strategy for using the computer to make care safer,” says Hyman. “If you think you are ordering a medication for a six-month-old baby, and a picture shows up of an eight-year-old kid you’re going to say, ‘whoa, wait a minute. What is going on here?’” He says the practice has reduced such patient identification errors from about a dozen a year to virtually zero.

A program called “Take it to Heart” provides bonuses to all hospital employees if they reach goals set for improving quality, safety and patient satisfaction. More than 1,200 staff members subscribe to a “Safety Story” e-mail that promotes reliable practices, identifies errors and celebrates successes.

School-to-Work programs, like Medical Career Collaborative and Project Search, provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged students to pursue careers in health care, with many hired by the hospital after completing the programs.   

Winning the Quest for Quality prize will serve as a stimulus for the hospital to do better, Hyman says. “It’s satisfying to have our successes recognized this way, but our work is not done,” he says. “We are going to use the award as a springboard for even greater accomplishments.” 

Click here to learn more about the prize.

Quest for Quality