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Leaders at Henry Ford Health System and Memorial Hermann Healthcare System Awarded for Commitment to Creating Safer, More Transparent Environments for Patients

VHA Foundation and National Business Group on Health Recognize the Nation's Best Health Systems for Patient Safety Leadership

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As medical errors continue to exact large financial and human tolls across the country, leaders at the Henry Ford Health System (Detroit, MI) and the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System (Houston, TX) have created cultures of safety that start with the executive-suite and extend throughout their organizations. The two organizations were recognized today as the inaugural winners of the National Health System Patient Safety Leadership Award.

Established earlier this year, the National Health System Patient Safety Leadership Award is a collaborative effort between the VHA Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization focused on improving the health and health care of all Americans, and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH), the nation's only non-profit organization of large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative solutions to health care benefits issues.

"This award recognizes health systems where senior leaders are driving a culture that places the highest value on safety," said Linda DeWolf, president of the VHA Foundation. "The safety results these health systems are seeing clearly show that their approach to safety is saving lives."

"These health care systems have succeeded at creating a culture of safety, which is a fundamental ingredient for sustainable safety improvements," said Helen Darling, president of National Business Group on Health. "We hope this award encourages other health leaders to see the enormous impact they can make if they take an active role in patient safety."

The winning health systems were chosen out of applicants from across the nation by a panel of judges representing corporations, patient safety organizations, government and health care. Applicants were selected on criteria designed to highlight the leadership of health care systems in creating a culture of safety including: system-level commitment; board and senior leadership; system-wide alignment of patient safety resources and goals; improved patient outcomes and transparency in public reporting.

Highlights from the Winners' Patient Safety Programs

The Henry Ford Health System is a non-profit, seven-hospital network with 1,787 beds and 27 outpatient medical centers located throughout southeast Michigan.

  • All Henry Ford Health System Trustees are educated about quality and safety upon appointment to the board. A Trustee website provides board members with access to safety performance statistics, as well as the latest articles on patient safety.
  • Patients are active partners in creating safety. Patients and families who have experienced a medical error are invited to and attend board meetings. Patients also helped to design and launch the system's "No Harm Campaign," modeled after the IHI's 5 Million Lives Campaign.
  • The health system shares safety outcomes with the public on the organization's website. Updated quarterly, the site shows the system's hospital-acquired infection rate, mortality rates and other metrics related to safety. The site also provides patient education resources and free videos.
  • Patient safety learning is widely shared across the system. For example, over the past 16 years, the system has held a Quality Expo where teams come together to share experiences and learn from colleagues. Trustees, system leaders, patients andemployees are invited to tour the Expo to learn about safety improvements in the system.
  • The system has experienced a significant reduction in mortality rates at all of its hospitals, and Henry Ford Hospital, its flagship, boasts the lowest severity-adjusted mortality rate of any large hospital in the state of Michigan.

The Memorial Hermann Healthcare System is a 3,365 bed, 11-hospital network located in Houston, Texas.

  • The Board of the health care system has committed the time and resources to allow all employees to take part in safety trainings. All employees - more than 14,000 to date - have participated in "Breakthroughs in Patient Safety" (BIPS) training that teaches new work habits that protect patients from harm. During the training employees learn how errors occur while performing skill, rule and knowledge activities in complex environments.
  • The organization is learning from other high-risk industries. Employees learn about a process borrowed from the aviation industry that empowers them to ask critical questions that bring attention to a team member who is about to deviate from the standard of practice.
  • The health system engages patients and families to play a role in their own safety. Patient rooms include a poster encouraging patients to do a number of simple things to improve safety including asking anyone who enters the room to wash their hands. The poster also includes a phone number they can dial to activate the Rapid Response team.
  • The organization was one of the first in the country to use its website to display quality results as a way to provide transparency to patients. An internal website allows executives and employees to continuously track the system's goals and performance, which the Board reviews on a regular basis.
  • The health system has experienced a reduction in adverse safety events, including hospital acquired infections as a result of documented adherence to scientifically proven actions. One Memorial Hermann facility has not had an occurrence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in 34 months.

About the VHA Foundation

The VHA Foundation, located in Irving, Texas, is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by VHA Inc. to encourage leadership and innovation solutions that address health and health care issues. The Foundation seeks the input and participation of both member and non-member health care organizations in its efforts to improve health and health care. The VHA Foundation funds programs that focus on two important health themes: leadership in patient safety and disaster relief.

The National Health Systems Patient Safety Leadership Award builds on VHA Foundation's commitment to support health care leaders in paths towards safer, more transparent hospitals. Earlier this year, the Foundation launched the Health Care SafetyNetwork, a program that is providing nearly 140 hospital CEOs nationwide with an experienced-based educational and networking opportunity to advance their confidence, knowledge and skills in patient safety.

About the National Business Group on Health

The National Business Group on Health is the nation's only non-profit, membership organization of over 300 mostly large employers devoted exclusively to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to their most important health care and related benefits issues. The NBGH identifies and shares best practices in health benefits, disability, health and productivity, related paid time off and work/life balance issues. NBGH members provide health coverage for more than 50 million U.S. workers, retirees and their families.

Contacts: Danielle DeForge, (202) 210-5992,

Lynn Gentry, VHA Foundation, (972) 830-0798,

SOURCE VHA Foundation; National Business Group on Health
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