YVMC earns third consecutive Healthgrades patient safety award

Teresa Ristow

— After noticing an increasing number of patients falling in the inpatient unit at Yampa Valley Medical Center in 2013, staff began to take steps to correct the problem.

“We evaluated our falls policy, educated our patients and families on the risks of falls in the hospitals, started treating every patient as a potential fall risk and increased communication and tracking our data transparently,” said Marie Timlin, YVMC’s chief nursing officer.

The procedures helped the hospital decrease its fall rate by 43 percent from 2013 to 2014, and eliminate falls entirely from September through December of 2014.

Quick responses to preventable problems at YVMC like the fall rate have helped the hospital win yet another award for patient safety, YVMC staff announced last week.

YVMC held a ceremony Friday to recognize hospital staff for the medical center’s third consecutive Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award. The hospital has received the honor annually since 2013, in addition to numerous other awards related to the patient experience. YVMC is one of only two hospitals in the state to win the award three times in a row.

“People come to the hospital for help, our role is to create an environment where they are free from preventable harm while we support them through the healing process,” Timlin said.

Timlin said that hospital has many procedures in place to prevent complications, which include communicating regularly with patients, conducting bedside reports, emphasizing training and utilizing evidence-based practices.

“We have a dedicated staff who make patient safety a priority,” she said.

The award winners are determined using Denver-based Healthgrades’ 13 Patient Safety Indicators, with information from a survey of patient perspectives conducted by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems and from claims data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services and by studying patient safety incidents defined by the Agency for Health Research and Quality.

According to Healthgrades, more than 130,000 patient safety events across the United States from 2011 to 2013 could have been avoided if all hospitals performed better than expected on the 13 indicators, as YVMC has done for the last three years, Timlin said.

As part of the effort to reduce preventable harm, YVMC was also one of 30 hospitals in Colorado that participated in the recent Partnerships for Patients program.

The project ran from January 2012 to June 2014 and helped bring down YVMC’s preventable readmission rate to 6 percent, well below the 16 percent average at hospitals nationwide.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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