augusta free press news

Innovative efforts reduce hospital-acquired infections at Augusta Health

augusta healthAugusta Health is among eight hospitals in Maryland and Virginia to receive the Virginia Health Quality Center 2015 Quality Innovation Award.

The award recognizes hospitals that are achieving reductions in hospital-acquired infections (HAI) and who are creating a culture of patient safety.  All hospitals enrolled in the VHQC Maryland-Virginia HAI Improvement Network were reviewed, based on 2015 calendar-year performance.

The award considered data from two sources:

  • Targeted Assessment for Prevention developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that looks at rates of HAI such as CAUTI (catheter associated urinary tract infection), CLABSI (central line associated blood stream infection) and CDI (c Diff).
  • Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems
  • The top 10% of hospitals in each state received the award.

Innovations implemented at Augusta Health in the past year that have worked to improve patient safety and quality of care and reduce HAI include:

  • Daily Safety Huddle: Led by Scott Just, MD, it’s a daily gathering of more than 40 clinical and non-clinical directors who review the events of the previous 24 hours and patients who may need special attention from caregivers in the next 24 hours. The exchange of information creates awareness of those at risk for complication, so actions can be taken to reduce the chance for infections and falls or prevent worsening condition.
  • Nurse Active Rounding: As a group, nurse leaders visit patients that staff has identified as possible concerns to proactively discuss an interdisciplinary course of action.
  • New ‘Early Warning’ System: Patients are monitored continuously for early warning signs of a change in the patient’s condition, such as reduced blood flow to vital organs, so actions can before the situation becomes dangerous.

“Patient safety and quality of care are our highest priorities at Augusta Health,” said Scott Just, MD, leader of daily safety huddle. “Every day, we bring together our clinical and non-clinical department leaders to discuss the events of the past 24 hours, and proactively discuss what we expect during the next 24 hours. Concerns are addressed before they become serious issues.  We prioritize, assign staff to look into issues, and make sure everyone has the support and resources they need. The huddles, by moving our focus from one that was reactive to one that is proactive, have really had a positive impact on quality and patient safety.”


“The Quality Innovation Award is formal recognition of all the highly engaged, creative, and concentrated effort by our physicians and staff to improve the outcomes of all our patients,” said Richard Embrey, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Augusta Health. “The improved communication brought about by the Safety Huddles and Active Nurse Rounding, and the resulting increased teamwork to support each other to meet the needs of our patients, has been remarkable.”

For nearly two years, Augusta Health has participated in the HAI (Hospital-Acquired Infections) Improvement Network, led by VHQC.  As the Medicare Quality Innovation Network for Maryland and Virginia, VHQC convenes patients, partners, clinicians and others to rapidly spread best practices for improving healthcare.

Augusta Health is an independent, community-owned, not-for-profit hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of its community through access to excellent care.  Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters/Truven in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by HealthGrades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for clinical excellence and patient safety for two consecutive years.

For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please visit the website,