From Debi’s Desk – Superior Quality and Safety Results

Debra Albert, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, speaks at the kickoff ceremony for 2014 Nurses Week earlier this year. (Photo by Megan E. Doherty).

Debra Albert, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, speaks at the kickoff ceremony for 2014 Nurses Week earlier this year. (Photo by Megan E. Doherty).

Welcome to the delayed October issue of At the Forefront: Nursing Edition. What a month! Unfortunately, some unexpected events forced us to bump the October issue back a few days. But here it is.

I want to start off by thanking everyone for the exemplary work of caring for our patients during a period of many competing priorities.

In particular, I want to recognize those who have completed, or are planning to participate in, the ongoing training to safely care for patients who may be infected with Ebola virus disease.

I’m sure many of you will be moved by the testimonials, contained within this newsletter, of two of our nurses who have been trained and are ready to take care of this special patient population.

It was particularly impressive how the entire organization came together and was able to accept the transfer of care within four hours of receiving our first phone call for our first patient. That level of response is only able to happen when we have focused professionals who step up. Any many of you did!

Meanwhile, as an institution, we have been working towards aggressive – but achievable – safety and quality targets. Through the professionalism and dedication of our nurses, and our continued collaboration with physicians and staff, I’m proud of the progress we have made in this area.

This is evident in the consistent improvements we are making across many different national safety and quality measures.

Two standout reports underscore this progress:


Once again, we received an ‘A’ grade from Leapfrog – our sixth in a row. UCM has earned the top mark in every survey period since this prestigious firm began ranking hospital safety a few years ago.

This places us in a very special category. Only about 250 out of a sample of 2,520 acute care hospitals in the U.S. have maintained an A throughout all survey periods. The great work done by our nursing staff is one of the fundamental reasons we’ve stayed at this high level.

Leapfrog uses 28 publicly available metrics to assess hospital safety. I want to call out a few nursing-specific areas where we were rated top in the nation, highlighting the value and importance of several nursing-led initiatives over the past year or so:

Infections and Safety Problems

  • Elimination of air embolisms in the patient’s bloodstream
  • Elimination of dangerous objects left in the body
  • Prevention of pressure ulcers

Right Staffing to Prevent Safety Problems

  • Enough trained and qualified nurses on staff to provide safe care
  • Training of the hospital team so nurses, doctors and other staff learn to work together to prevent harm to the patient
  • Staff work together to prevent errors

We should all be proud of the efforts throughout our hospitals to improve patient safety and the quality of their care. While Leapfrog is an important external recognition, we know it is merely validating something we’ve been doing for some time, and I thank you all.


We recently received our Medicare value-based purchasing report, which shows us to be in the top 10% in the country in Medicare’s patient safety ranking.

We have also seen marked improvements from Hospital Compare, Medicare’s public quality reporting program. Our quality measures either improved or we maintained 100% performance on 22 separate quality measures.

Our patient satisfaction scores are also improving. We improved on 8 of 10 of Hospital Compare’s patient satisfaction metrics and are now above both state and national averages for “overall satisfaction” and “willingness to recommend our hospital” – two critical areas to the patient experience.

As professionals, we are always focused on continuous improvement. However, it’s equally important to take pause, reflect and celebrate these achievements. I want you to feel proud of the daily contributions and impact you’ve made to improve the patient experience at UCMC.

I want to give you a heads up that the FY2014 Nursing Annual Report should be out by mid-November. I know many of you were involved in the planning and execution of it. Thanks for your hard work.

When you look back at all we have achieved together in the past year, I think you’ll see that we have a lot to be proud of.

And lastly, I encourage you to continue to visit to stay informed of all labor developments. Traffic to the site is growing steadily, as many of you are finding valuable information. Plus, you can also read several back issues of At the Forefront: Nursing Edition.

Thank you for all that you do to deliver outstanding care and advance the professional practice of nursing at UCMC each and every day.

Debra Albert, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC

About Debra Albert (7 Articles)
Debra Albert, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, is the Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at the University of Chicago Medicine
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