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Harborview Medical Center Receives 2011 Patient Safety Initiative at NAPH Lead

Friday, May 27, 2011   (0 Comments)
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Harborview Medical Center Receives 2011 Patient Safety Initiative at America’s Public Hospitals Leadership Award

Boston, MA (May 26, 2011) – The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), in conjunction with the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH), today awarded the 2011 Patient Safety Initiative at America’s Public Hospitals Leadership Award to Harborview Medical Center. The honor was conferred during NPSF’s 2011 Patient Safety Congress in Washington, DC, for the Seattle, WA-based institution’s impressive work in the area of fall prevention and reduction.


“Falls threaten patients’ lives, safety and independence,” said NPSF President Diane C. Pinakiewicz, MBA. “They also have an enormous impact on the cost of health care. Harborview’s singular effort to reduce this preventable risk is a valuable public service and fully worthy of distinction.”

The Patient Safety Initiative is a collaboration of NAPH and NPSF. Launched in October 2009 with generous support of the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Fund, the program provides education, resources and communication strategies that promote safer health care. The award is given to a participating member in recognition of the successful implementation of an outstanding patient safety program and/or project that was created, executed or advanced as part of their membership.

“NAPH is honored to recognize Harborview Medical Center for their leadership in advancing patient safety, and specifically, their commitment to eliminating patient falls,” said Linda Cummings, PhD, Vice President for Research/Director of the National Public Health and Hospital Institute (NPHHI).

Harborview carried out a six month pilot program, which is now being rolled out hospital-wide. The program endeavored to:

    • Build the belief among staff that injuries from falls can be eliminated;
    • Incorporate fall assessment discussion in daily rounds;
    • Employ a fall-prevention bundle for patients at risk for falls;
    • Review medications for fall risk and adjust as indicated;
    • Post fall data monthly on all care units;
    • Consistently use a valid fall risk assessment tool and track compliance;
    • Regularly communicate individualized information about patients at risk for injury from falls to all caregivers and hospital staff;
    • Prevent falls and injuries with tools such as low beds with side rails, bed and chair alarms, one-to-one observation, non-skid slippers with treads on top and bottom, floor mats, and nurses walking patients with gait belts;
    • Engage the entire hospital using data displays on units, discussion at organizational meetings, awareness education, and safety fairs;
    • Engage both ancillary and medical staff in the process of fall and injury prevention, including handoffs between departments and assisting with identifying at-risk patients;
    • Incorporate more celebration into the process by recognizing units for days between falls and reducing falls and related injuries.

At the end of the pilot phase, the number of falls decreased by nearly 40% on the trial unit and 23% hospital-wide. This reduction was sustained over a seven month period. In this time frame, the pilot unit did not experience one fall that resulted in major harm, and the whole institution had two falls resulting in serious injury. The number of repeat fallers decreased by 38%, and that figure has continued to improve.


About Harborview Medical Center
Harborview Medical Center is owned by King County, governed by a county-appointed board of trustees, and managed by the University of Washington as a component entity of the UW Medicine Health System. Harborview is the only designated Level I adult and pediatric trauma and burn center for the states of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The medical center serves patients from all walks of life in its world class centers of emphasis and serves a mission population for King County by caring for the community’s most vulnerable patient populations. Harborview also serves as the disaster control hospital for Seattle-King County. Visit for details.

About the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH)
NAPH represents the nation’s largest metropolitan hospitals and health systems that fulfill a safety net mission of providing high volumes of care to low income individuals. These facilities provide high-quality health services for all patients, including the uninsured and underinsured, regardless of ability to pay. In addition to functioning as the country’s default national health insurance system, public hospitals provide many essential community-wide services, such as primary care, trauma care, and neonatal intensive care. Public hospitals also train many of America’s doctors, nurses, and other health care providers. Since its inception in 1980, NAPH has cultivated a strong presence on Capitol Hill, with the executive branch, and in many state capitols. NAPH advocates on behalf of its members on such issues as Medicaid, Medicare, and access to health care services for vulnerable populations. For more information, visit our website at


About The National Patient Safety Foundation®
The indispensable resource for individuals and organizations committed to improving the safety of patients, The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has been pursuing one mission since its founding in 1997 – to improve the safety of care provided to patients. As a central voice for patient safety, NPSF is committed to a collaborative, inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach in all that it does. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the work of the National Patient Safety Foundation, please visit:


Contacts: John Bianchi, Goodman Media
(212) 576-2700 x228

Patricia McTiernan, NPSF
(617) 391-9922

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