U. of C. Med Center receives lauds in nursing, patient care, safety

Staff Writer

The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) has received magnet status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for excellence in nursing and patient care. UCMC also earned its 13th consecutive “A” rating in hospital safety from the Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit that surveys and rates hospitals on transparency, proficiency and safety.

In an interview with the Herald, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of Patient Care Debra Albert discussed how the UCMC attained each designation.

The ANCC takes nurse-sensitive clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and nurse satisfaction in designating healthcare organizations magnet status. Albert emphasized the UCMC’s structure of shared governance, “where nurses at the bedside have a voice in clinical decision-making”; she also referenced nurses’ role in designing the Center’s new emergency department. While the ANCC’s benchmark for nurses holding a bachelor’s degree or higher is 80 percent, UCMC surpassed that number, with 94 percent of UCMC nurses exceeding that educational benchmark.

The UCMC submitted a nearly 300-page document detailing how they met criteria and hosted a four-day site visit in February, during which the ANCC interviewed 1,200 nurses, patients, patients’ families, physicians, therapists and pharmacists.

“In addition, to understanding our process and getting people’s perspectives through interviews, they also examined our data and our performance outcomes as measured against national benchmarks,” Albert said.

The ANCC will review the UCMC’s magnet designation every four years through documentation and site review. ANCC will continue to raise its standards, “Which is appropriate,” said Albert, “because this is a designation of excellence.”

“There are a lot of rewards for us,” she said. “The process forced the organization to really create a good and healthy work environment that produces excellence in outcome. It continually pushes us to provide better care for our patients.”

Nationally, just over six percent of healthcare organizations hold ANCC magnet designation.

The “A” rating from Leapfrog, which challenges healthcare providers across the country to increase patient safety, also continually raises its criteria to move hospitals to refine and improve patient outcomes. Albert said safety starts with an infrastructure to identify potential safety issues and that the UCMC encourages event reporting, whether actual or potential.

Frontline clinical staff think about potential errors in advance and how they mitigate them. Should an incident occur—if a patient suffers a fall, for instance—“Our frontline staff actually does an immediate deep dive, looking at what meds the patient was on, what the fall risk assessment was, whether they’ve followed all the right things to do to prevent a fall, whether the floor was clean and dry, whether the bed alarm was on or the bars were up,” said Albert.

The Leapfrog Group issues grades twice a year. Only 49 United States hospitals have received an “A” rating 13 years running, and the number has been annually decreasing, according to the organization

“We are really proud to be able demonstrate through two designations that the University of Chicago is really dedicated to providing care to the South Side of Chicago,” Albert said. “It’s a great way for us to have external validation that that’s exactly what we’re doing.”