The quality revolution

How sharing information is reforming health care at the bedside

Carole Bartoo
Published: June, 2010

Health care reform is not a legislative invention. It’s a quiet revolution that is occurring in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. 

Carla Saunders, NNP, helped implement
changes that lowered the infection rate
in the NICU at East Tennessee
Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
Photo by Joe Howell

Two years ago, for example, the staff at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville rallied around a project to prevent infections that can occur through central lines (catheters) inserted into babies’ tiny blood vessels.

Since 2008, they have cut the infection rate by 80 percent.

“We no longer accept infection as the cost of doing business,” says Carla Saunders, NNP, advanced care coordinator for the Pediatrix Medical Group at the hospital and a 20-year veteran neonatal nurse practitioner.

Thanks to the Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC), the lessons learned at East Tennessee Children’s are now available to all of the other neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) in the state.

“No matter what a great job we do at our own hospitals, it won’t move the statistics a lot. We need to share what we do with others, and we need to learn from each other,” says Judy Aschner, M.D., the Julia Carell Stadler Professor of Pediatrics and director of the Mildred Stahlman Division of Neonatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

TIPQC was Aschner’s brainchild. Other states, like California, Ohio and North Carolina already had neonatal/perinatal care collaboratives. She went to the Governors Office of Children’s Care Coordination (GOCCC) and the March of Dimes to find funds to start one in Tennessee.

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