UT System conference focuses on improving patient safety and treatment

Health care professionals and students from across The University of Texas System gathered in San Antonio in late September to focus on ways of improving patient safety and treatment quality.

Building the Bridge: Public Policy and Public Health Effect Health Care Reform brought together doctors, clinicians and students from across the University’s health care system for the two-day conference. It was organized by UT System Executive Vice Chancellor’s Health Fellow for Clinical Effectiveness Jan Patterson, in cooperation with the UT Clinical Safety & Effectiveness (CS&E) Steering Committee.

 “We are building a critical mass of faculty members that are able to use quality improvement tools,” said Dr. Patterson, a professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases.

The conference goal was to share results of quality improvement projects from the Health Science Center’s clinical safety and effectiveness students, as well as those from the other UT System health institutions.

Projects discussed included:

  • An effort to prevent infections by multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) by improving environmental cleanliness. The intervention was tested in two wards, one surgical and one medical over a three-month period. By the end, the rate of rooms ready for occupancy based on proper cleaning by visual inspection had tripled.
  • A project that sought to increase efficiency at the UT Medicine San Antonio Pain Clinic. A pilot intervention conducted over six weeks introduced a revised intake form, a second vital signs station and walkie-talkies used to communicate room readiness and availability of patients and health care providers.
  • A project that attempted to decrease colorectal surgery infections through a multidisciplinary approach. A group of physicians, nurses and pharmacists reviewed care before, during and after surgery and instituted evidence-based interventions, such as prophylactic antibiotics, glucose control and preoperative bath and skin preparation. Their efforts cut the rate of surgical infections in half over three and a half years.

Patterson has taught the course for faculty at UTHSC-San Antonio since 2008. A total of 183 faculty and staff completing 90 quality improvement projects have since graduated from the course.

Keynote speakers at the fifth annual conference included Elizabeth McGlynn, Ph.D., director of Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness & Safety Research; Stephen Shortell, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley; and Dr. Richard Shannon, Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Department of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania Health Systems.