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San Dimas Community Hospital Saving Lives While Cutting Unnecessary Costs in California's Hospitals

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Hospital-acquired infections are the most common complication of hospital care and are listed among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States. Each year they account for more than 1.7 million infections, 99,000 deaths, and $3.1 billion dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs in acute care hospitals. In California alone, an estimated 200,000 infections occur with an annual cost of about $600 million to $1.6 billion.

Three years ago, Anthem Blue Cross, the National Health Foundation, and regional hospital associations banded together to get at the root of this problem and improve the quality and consistency of healthcare Californians receive through a statewide program called Patient Safety First, or PSF.

San Dimas Community Hospital has joined that effort because nothing is more important to us than the health of our patients.

This innovative idea allows us to share best practices and reduce unnecessary early infant deliveries and infections acquired in the hospital, while improving the overall delivery of healthcare and cutting costs.

The results in a recently released report are impressive and show what can happen when health plans, hospital associations, non-profit organizations and private and public hospitals partner together to improve care. Over the last three years, the statewide program avoided 3,576 deaths and more than $63 million in otherwise unnecessary hospital costs between 2009 and 2012, the report found.

Perhaps particularly impressive has been the reduction of hospital acquired illnesses and early elective deliveries. The results are hugely important. They show:

  • 74 percent reduction in early elective deliveries prior to 39 weeks gestational age
  • 57 percent reduction in cases of ventilator associated pneumonia
  • 43 percent reduction in cases of central line blood stream infections, and
  • 26 percent reduction in sepsis mortality

J. Eugene Grigsby, president and CEO of the National Health Foundation, is right on the mark when he says that the PSF program "demonstrates that when over 180 hospitals identify a problem, utilize a common database and work collaboratively to make hospitals safer, significant progress can be made."

What is particularly impressive is that these outcomes happened despite the tremendous diversity of the 180 hospitals participating in PSF. They include large and small facilities, for profits hospitals and not-for-profit facilities, sectarian and non-sectarian, independent and non-independent, in wealthy areas and less wealthy areas.

The largest collaborative effort focused on patient safety in the nation, PSF will provide life-saving -- and cost-saving -- dividends for years to come. Beyond curtailing infections and early deliveries, we believe that by sharing best practices among hospitals and insurers can dramatically reduce overall medical errors.

As the debate continues about what health care in our country will look like in the coming years, PSF is a great example of ways our community is working together and to provide real solutions that will make a difference in the lives of all Californians.