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Patient safety grant awarded to Aurora Health Care

Monday, June 20, 2005

$492,000 grant supports unique patient safety study in clinic setting

Aurora Health Care has received a grant that will focus on improving patient safety in Walworth County medical clinics. The two-year, $492,000 grant to Aurora is one of 15 awarded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It is the only AHRQ Partnership in Implementing Patient Safety grant awarded in Wisconsin.

“While efforts have been under way for a number of years to improve medication safety practices in hospitals, this initiative will be implementing unique approaches to engaging the patients and their community to improve patient safety in the outpatient clinic setting,” said Kathryn Leonhardt, MD, MPH, the principal investigator for Aurora.

There are a number of reasons why this study will focus on the outpatient setting. The Institute of Medicine report regarding medical errors recognizes medication records as one element of health care that carries significant safety risks. The use of medications is rising with two-thirds of office visits associated with medication usage. And adverse drug events may occur in the outpatient setting at a rate that is four times higher than the inpatient setting.

Aurora will work with Consumers Advancing Patient Safety (CAPS), a consumer-led organization established to be a collective voice for safety issues, and Midwest Airlines.

Midwest Airlines will bring its perspectives on how the aviation industry created a culture of safety as well as excellence in customer service, and find ways to replicate those efforts in the health care setting.

“We’ve assembled a great team to create a platform to bring consumers to the table and create a model that incorporates the consumer perspective in a health care organization’s patient safety activities,” said Susan E. Sheridan, CAPS co-founder and president.

The study will focus on Aurora Health Centers in Delavan, Elkhorn, Walworth, Lake Geneva and East Troy. The initiative will look at improving medication safety in the outpatient setting through a partnership model involving patients, health care providers and the community.

“The grant will join patients, health care providers and local communities in a collaborative effort to develop and implement strategies to improve medication safety in clinics,” Dr. Leonhardt said. “A key element of our commitment to enhance safety is the involvement of the community, which will help us to approach this initiative from the patient’s perspective.”

The project will develop methods to help patients and providers work more closely in medication management in the clinic and community setting. The target population is patients 55 years and older, who can be the most vulnerable to medication safety issues because of chronic medical conditions, multiple prescriptions and utilizing several providers.

“From the clinic’s perspective, we’ll look at how to enhance the medication tracking to help ensure a patient’s records are up to date, accurate and reflect what a patient is actually taking,” said Dr. Leonhardt. “We want a process that strengthens the dialogue between patient and provider and helps ensure medication records are accurate.”

About Consumers Advancing Patient Safety

Consumers Advancing Patient Safety (CAPS) is a consumer-led non-profit organization formed to be a collective voice for individuals, families and healers who wish to prevent harm in health care encounters through partnership and collaboration. CAPS envisions creating a health care system that is safe, compassionate and just.

About Aurora Health Care

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a nationally recognized leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers services at sites in 80 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact:  Ron Irwin (414-647-3405)

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