KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals In The News: ICU Deaths Higher On Weekend, Continuous Improvement Pays Off In Seattle

"Patients admitted to an intensive care unit over the weekend may be more likely to die than those admitted at other times, perhaps because of reduced staffing, a review of research finds," HealthDay/USA Today reports. "For the review, published in the July issue of the journal Chest, researchers examined the results of 10 studies exploring the link between time of admission to an ICU and death rates. The studies were conducted in North America, Europe and Asia… Eight studies examined mortality during the day versus nighttime and found no difference. Six studies examined admissions of 180,600 people during weekends compared to weekdays and estimated that those admitted over the weekend were [on average] 8% more likely to die. But the risk could actually be as high as 13% - or as low as 4%, Cavallazzi said." The researchers controlled for severity of illness" (Dotinga, 7/11).

The New York Times reports on a quality initiative at Seattle Children's Hospital that uses "practices made famous by Toyota and others. ... Seattle Children's Hospital has found that checklists, standardization and nonstop brainstorming with front-line staff and customers can pay off. … The program, called 'continuous performance improvement' or C.P.I., examines every aspect of patients' stays at the hospital, from the time they arrive in the parking lot until they are discharged, to see what could work better for them and their families. Last year, amid rising health care expenses nationally, C.P.I. helped cut Seattle Children's costs per patient by 3.7 percent, for a total savings of $23 million, [hospital president Patrick] Hagan says. And as patient demand has grown in the last six years, he estimates that the hospital avoided spending $180 million on capital projects by using its facilities more efficiently." Hospital in Boston and Minneapolis are also using the approach (Weed, 7/9).

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