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Pre-surgery Checklist Aims To Make Wichita Hospitals Among Safest In Nation

Wichita-area doctors and hospitals have adopted a pre-surgery checklist designed to make the city’s operating rooms among the safest in the nation.

“If you go to the Hospital Compare website and look at ‘antibiotic prophylaxis ordered’ under ‘procedures and core measures,’ you’ll see that we’re at 99-plus percent,” says Dr. Randall Morgan, an obstetrician and chair of the Wichita Quality Health Collaborative’s Surgical Safety Committee.

“We’re meeting all of the quality-of-care markers and we’re at or above all the state averages and all the national averages. We’re where we’re supposed to be.”

“But you wouldn’t want to be in the 1 percent that didn’t get the antibiotic,” Morgan says. “That’s what this is about.”

For years, Morgan says, hospitals and surgical centers in Wichita have used slightly different checklists. The new list is the same for all.

“It’s a move toward flawless execution,” Morgan says. “It’s about making sure the same thing happens every time to every patient.”

Checklist items include:

•   Identifying the patient and the procedure to be performed

•   Confirming whether the patient has allergies

•   Identifying allergies

•   Confirming whether and when an antibiotic was given

The collaborative is a project of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County and includes Via Christi Health, Wesley Medical Center, the Robert J. Dole (Department of Veterans Affairs) Medical Center and seven surgical centers. The Newton Medical Center, in Harvey County, also is participating.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ruth Hommertzheim, a nurse practitioner at Via Christi, said national data show about 40 surgeries a day are performed on the wrong patient or the wrong body part. In some cases the wrong procedure is performed.

“Oftentimes, a physician will be at three different hospitals, doing six different cases in one day, and each hospital had their own (checklist) process,” Hommertzheim said. “By having all those inconsistencies and all those different processes, it set people up to fail.”

The new, agreed-upon procedures, she said, were meant to change that.

Dr. Donna Sweet, president of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, says the arrangement is unique.

“It says so much about our local medical community that physicians and hospitals have been working together in a collegial manner and holding each other accountable in support of the goal of improving patient care,” Sweet says. “This doesn’t happen everywhere.”

Dave Ranney is senior writer/editor with KHI News Service, an editorially independent reporting program of the Kansas Health Institute. Bryan Thompson is a reporter for Kansas Public Radio. 

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