ABCs of Hospitalized Patients: A Simple Before-After Study of a Communication Tool to Improve Quality of Inpatient Care

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Abstract

Objectives

Within the past several years, innovative communication tools have been established as viable quality improvement mechanisms in health care. Meanwhile, the economic and societal burdens of hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) continue to rise. Various interventions have been attempted to reduce HACs. This study evaluated the effectiveness of a communication tool in reducing risk factors for HACs.

Methods

A communication tool aimed at reducing HAC risk factors was developed by an interdisciplinary team of physicians and nurses and tested in a simple before-after quality improvement study. It included 8 components: ambulation/fall risk, blood glucose greater than 200 mg/dL, central venous catheters, deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis, erosions of the skin/dermal ulcers, Foley/urinary catheters, got communication, and heart monitor/telemetry. This communication tool facilitated multidisciplinary communication. The nurses completed it nightly, and the physicians reviewed the communication tool each morning and, when appropriate, addressed components of care that were out of compliance with best practices.

Results

The use of the ABCs of Hospitalized Patients Communication Tool led to daily improvements with reduction in the percentage of patients with blood glucose greater than 200 mg/dL from 43.3% to 35.1%, reduction in the use of central venous catheters from 8.2% to 1.0% of patients, increase in the use of chemical deep venous thrombosis prophylaxis from 45.4% of patients to 56.7%, reduction in the use of urinary catheters from 27.6% to 13.2%, and decrease in use of telemetry from 67.5% to 55.1%. All of the results have P < 0.05. These improvements were sustained over time.

Conclusions

Implementation of a multidisciplinary communication tool serves as a simple, resource-conscious, and customizable instrument to reduce the risk factors for developing HACs. This communication tool can be easily disseminated and used by other institutions.

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