Improvement and Innovation

Maintaining a safe, high quality health care environment is an ongoing commitment. Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is constantly mindful of ways to improve the care we provide. A number of important initiatives help keep Lahey staff focused on these goals.

Medication Safety | Medical Emergency Team | Heart Attack Intervention  

Medication Safety

E-prescribing: Incorporating electronic prescribing into our practice at Lahey has provided opportunities to improve the care and safety of our patients. E-prescribing provides many benefits for patients, providers, health plans and pharmacies. Electronic access to each patient’s prescription history helps physicians avoid prescribing drugs that may result in harmful drug interactions, while electronic transmission eliminates the possibility of medication errors caused by illegible handwriting.

In Lahey's ambulatory clinics, physicians have shown great commitment to electronic prescribing. Access to insurance and formulary information at the point of care allows professionals to prescribe a covered and affordable drug, resulting in fewer trips to the pharmacy for the patient. With less confusion and better communication, there are fewer phone calls and faxes between the physician’s office and the pharmacy.

Bar Code Medication Administration: All inpatient nursing units at Lahey utilize bar code medication administration (BCMA). This technology helps nurses provide the five rights of medication administration: the right medication, given at the right time, in the right dose, in the right format, to the right patient.

 

Medical Emergency Team

Sometimes a patient's medical condition deteriorates quickly while he or she is in the hospital or simply at an outpatient visit. Prompt, appropriate medical response is vital in this situation.

To address these situations, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center created the Medical Emergency Team (MET). The specialized team is available at a moment's notice 24 hours a day to address potentially life-threatening changes in a patient's health. The team can be activated by anyone who thinks a patient needs immediate help. The call could come from a nurse, a receptionist in an outpatient clinic, or a patient's visiting family member or friend.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement asserts that these types of rapid response teams can greatly reduce the incidence of heart attacks and death in hospital patients.

 

Heart Attack Intervention

In 2008, the American Heart Association recommended that all hospitals shorten their "door to balloon time" to 90 minutes. This is the time it takes from the moment a heart attack patient arrives in the Emergency Room until he or she undergoes a catheterization, a procedure that restores blood flow to the heart. Research shows that this critical window greatly affects a patient's outcome and survival from a heart attack.

Staff from the Emergency Room and the Cardiac Catheterization Lab worked together to reduce delays and streamline the process for getting certain patients to catheterization faster. Called the "STEMI protocol," the process enables ER staff to activate the cath lab when a patient has an ST elevation (the rise of a particular segment on an EKG that is a strong indicator of a heart attack.) Allowing ER staff to perform this previously restricted function has improved access and dramatically improved our performance.