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Study Highlights Successes of Ascension Health Quality Initiative

ST. LOUIS, April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A study published in the journal Health Affairs documents Ascension Health, the nation's third-largest health system, has achieved remarkable results in eliminating preventable mortality, lowering birth trauma rates, reducing bed sores and keeping patients safe.  In 2003, Ascension Health set a bold goal of eliminating preventable injuries and deaths. Ascension Health has seen consistent improvement over the eight years it has had an intensified focus on improving quality of care.

The study, "The Quality 'Journey' at Ascension Health: How We've Prevented At Least 1,500 Avoidable Deaths A Year—And Aim To Do Even Better," appears in the April issue of Health Affairs.  It shows that, compared to national averages, Ascension Health has achieved the following:

  • 25% lower mortality
  • 65% fewer birth traumas
  • 89% lower neonatal mortality rates
  • 94% lower in hospital-acquired pressure ulcers
  • 74% lower in ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • 43% lower in central-line blood stream infections

"The pioneering work undertaken by Ascension Health has helped lead the nation in establishing a safer environment in America's hospitals," said Maureen Bisognano, President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement.  "A true sign of leadership has been Ascension Health's willingness to share their learnings and experiences with other hospitals.  The best practices developed at Ascension Health are now in place in hospitals across the country."

David Pryor, MD, chief medical officer for Ascension Health and lead author of the report, participated in a panel discussion this morning organized by Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Washington, D.C. Co-authors of the study include: Ann Hendrich, RN, PhD (c), F.A.A.N., vice president of Clinical Excellence Operations; Robert J. Henkel, president, healthcare operations and chief operating officer; James K. Beckmann, senior vice president for system support services and chief risk officer; and, Anthony R. Tersigni, EdD, president and CEO.

Ascension Health is the nation's largest Catholic and nonprofit health system and the third-largest delivery system in the United States after the Hospital Corporation of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"These results show Ascension Health's longstanding commitment to Clinical Excellence," Pryor said.  "We hope the lessons we've learned during our ongoing quality journey will help other hospitals as many others have helped us."

"As evidenced by this important publication in Health Affairs, Ascension Health has made significant progress in many areas of patient safety," said Tersigni.  "However, we recognize we still have more work to do, and we remain more committed than ever to providing the best experience for those we are privileged to serve."

About Ascension Health

Ascension Health ( is transforming healthcare by providing the highest quality care to all, with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable.  Ascension Health, which provided $1.1 billion in care of persons who are poor and community benefit last year, is the nation's largest Catholic and nonprofit health system.  Our Mission-focused Health Ministries employ 113,000 associates serving in more than 500 locations in 20 states and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE Ascension Health
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