Originally published in The Jamestown Sun, June 26, 2012.
By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown Regional Medical Center hopes to reduce readmissions of patients with heart failure by 20 percent by the end of 2012, with the help of the national Partners for Patients campaign.
“We want to keep people out of the hospital, we do — because that is best for them,” said Jenna Bredahl, registered nurse and quality manager for JRMC.
JRMC sees about 10 to 20 patients with heart failure — which occurs when a person’s heart does not pump as much blood as the body needs — every month. Its readmission rate was a little more than 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.
The Partnership for Patients initiative was launched in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to reduce costs and improve patient care.
Its goal is to reduce preventable complications among hospital patients by 40 percent, and readmissions by 20 percent.
Hospitals can receive up to $10,000 in funding for the project, said Jerry Jurena, president of the North Dakota Hospital Association.
The initiative has 10 areas for hospitals to focus on, including adverse drug events, catheter-associated infections, injuries from falls and immobility, pressure ulcers and surgical site infections.
JRMC chose to focus on preventable readmissions, and it is beginning with preventing the readmissions of people with heart failure.
“I think every hospital would have to say everybody could improve in that area,” Bredahl said, explaining that JRMC already has focused efforts on falls and catheter infections.
JRMC is beginning with a focus on heart failure, but will then use its efforts in that area to springboard into other patient diagnoses.
Heart failure, according to information from the Mayo Clinic, means the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. Many conditions leading to heart failure can’t be reversed, but heart failure itself can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
Patient education is critical in preventing readmissions of heart failure patients, so JRMC’s efforts have revolved around ensuring patients are well-prepared for life at home.
And there may be many changes for those patients. They have to weigh themselves daily, because if they see sudden weight gains they could be retaining water and need to change treatment regimens, Bredahl said.
They have to restrict salt and limit fats and cholesterol, but also, in some cases, limit fluid intake. They also have to be active and get exercise, according information from the Mayo Clinic.
JRMC’s efforts will include teaching patients and then getting patients to teach it back to hospital staff to ensure everything is properly understood, Bredahl said.
“We’re redoing our education sheets, our handouts, everything we give to our patients,” Bredahl said.
Before, the education sheet on heart failure had lots of information, but the new sheet of paper makes it clearer when a patient is seeing warning signs and when he or she should visit a doctor or the hospital.
JRMC is also creating a booklet for patients that will help them determine what their objectives are on a day-by-day basis, and help engage patients and their families in their own care.
JRMC’s next step is to gather together the different departments of the hospital — social services and the pharmacy, as well as anybody else who has contact with the patient — in order to improve cooperation.
The hospital’s efforts began March 22 and will continue through the year and into 2013.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org