ATLANTA – The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) presented its prestigious Quality and Patient Safety Award to Habersham Medical Center in Demorest for its project that eliminated early elective deliveries (EED). The project, titled “Eliminating Elective Deliveries less than 39 Weeks,” won second place in the Hospitals with Less Than 100 Beds Category. Habersham was also presented with a Circle of Excellence Award, an honor given to hospitals and health systems that have demonstrated a sustained commitment to quality and patient safety as evidenced by not only winning a patient safety award in 2013, but by earning three or more PHA Patient Safety Awards within the previous five years. These annual awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), infants born preterm (before 39 weeks gestation) are more likely to have neurodevelopmental problems and infant death than those born at full term. Studies have shown that the final weeks are vital to the development of the brain, liver and lungs. An additional advantage to reduced EEDs is a decreased financial toll on families, health care providers and the community. Habersham Medical Center set a goal to reduce EEDs for less than 39 weeks to zero over a one-year period.
A multidisciplinary team consisting of obstetricians, a midwife and senior leadership expanded the hospital’s preterm delivery policy to include regulatory standards and medical instructions for induction of labor. Next, the team instituted a “hard-stop” rule, meaning that no medically unnecessary EEDs would be performed.
The team also created, and required the completion of, a birth center patient safety checklist for any scheduled delivery. The checklist is a list of 29 essential childbirth-related care practices that should be performed at each event for the best possible outcomes. Revamped patient education included a required patient consent form about the adverse effects and risks associated with early deliveries. Finally, the team educated staff on the goal to eliminated EEDs.
Since the implementation of the plan, the hospital has maintained zero elective deliveries for patients at less than 39 weeks of gestation, resulting in cost savings of $644,000.
“Prevention of medically unnecessary early elective deliveries is vital to the health and safety of mothers and their infants,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Earl V. Rogers. “We applaud Habersham Medical Center for taking a leadership role in this effort and for ensuring the safety of its patients.”