April 12, 2011 12:34 ET

VHA Inc. Launches Target Zero Initiative in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio to Eliminate Serious Patient Safety Events

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - Apr 12, 2011) - VHA Inc., the national health care network, today announced that the VHA Central region, based in Indianapolis, has launched an initiative designed to eliminate serious, preventable patient safety errors from member hospitals. This initiative aligns with hospitals' intensified efforts to achieve zero defects in patient care.

To address this need, 12 hospitals in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio have joined "Target Zero," an initiative sponsored by VHA's Central region and Healthcare Performance Improvement LLC, a firm based in Virginia Beach, Va., that has expertise in improving human performance in complex systems.

"VHA is committed to helping members improve patient safety and reduce serious safety events, and participating VHA member hospitals are committed to working on this because it is the right thing to do," said Patti Sweeney, executive officer over VHA Central. "The Target Zero initiative is designed to provide methodologies to improve patient safety across the health care organization and not simply in selected areas, such as the ICU or the OR. It impacts an organization's culture and engages all hospital staff in providing a safe patient environment."

The following VHA Central members are participating in this two-year project, which will consist of face-to-face meetings, virtual learning seminars and individual coaching calls with HPI consultants and VHA staff:

  • Akron General Medical Center, Akron, Ohio
  • Allegiance Health, Jackson, Mich.
  • Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Ind.
  • MedCentral Health System, Mansfield, Ohio
  • Memorial Healthcare, Owosso, Mich.
  • Owensboro Medical Health System, Owensboro, Ky.
  • Premier Health Partners including:
    • Atrium Medical Center, Middletown, Ohio
    • Good Samaritan Hospital, Dayton, Ohio
    • Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio
    • Upper Valley Medical Center, Troy, Ohio
  • The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Union Hospital, Terre Haute, Ind.

"This initiative isn't narrowly focused on preventing patient falls or increasing compliance with hand washing," said Craig Clapper, a founding partner and the chief knowledge officer of HPI. "Instead, this initiative focuses on horizontal integration of high-reliability values and behaviors across an organization and achieving staff, leader, and physician accountability for those behaviors." HPI has worked with more than 200 hospitals across the country, including many VHA members.

Through the implementation of the HPI process, health care organizations have realized significant reduction in serious safety events and have simultaneously experienced a reduction in liability claims. Organizations typically experience a 50% - 75% reduction in serious safety events and realize a return on investment at a rate of 10:1.

"Building broad accountability for safety is difficult. People often assume some issues will fix themselves, and that may be because fixing the real problems is more complex and challenging than simple process redesign," said Sweeney. "Fixing root problems requires a focus on detecting and correcting weaknesses in systems, establishing behavioral accountability and looking at the formal and informal philosophies and practices that occur within a hospital that directly and indirectly connect to patients. That is time-consuming, and that's what makes this work so difficult, but in the end, it is the only type of activity that will create sustainable results."

As part of this initiative, VHA will serve as the data collector, organizer for education efforts and disseminator of best practices across the participating hospitals.

About VHA
VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena, set new levels of clinical performance and identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes. In 2009, VHA delivered record savings and value of $1.47 billion to members. Formed in 1977, VHA serves 1,350 hospitals and more than 30,000 non-acute care providers nationwide, coordinating delivery of its programs and services through its 16 regional offices. VHA has been listed as one of the best places to work in health care by Modern Healthcare since 2008 and one of the best places to work in IT by Computer World since 2007.

About HPI
Healthcare Performance Improvement (HPI) is a consulting firm with experience and expertise in improving human performance in complex systems. HPI provides proven approaches and leading-edge methodology to build cultures of safety and performance excellence in the healthcare industry. Methods are based on reliability science and best practices from high-reliability organizations -- like nuclear power and aviation -- combined with experienced-based mentoring and best practice sharing across the HPI client community.

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