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July 9, 2012

Our Patient Safety Efforts

All of us at the UConn Health Center share a deep and abiding commitment to patient safety. Many of you have shared your thoughts on this with me directly, and I have seen others quietly demonstrate their commitment in everyday actions and decisions.

Since 2009, the Health Center has intensified its focus on patient safety and patient satisfaction, as seen in the creation of the Quality Department, the establishment of groups such as All Hands on Deck, and concerted efforts to give clinical managers the tools they need to address patient satisfaction issues. We also recently formed alliances with national organizations such as the American College of Surgeons’ National Surgical Quality Improvement Program and the Studer Group to advance our patient safety and quality improvement goals and foster a culture to enhance patient safety. We are also part of a statewide effort to promote patient safety.

These efforts, many of which began before my arrival, are exceptionally important and I commend the leaders within the Health Center and our Board of Directors for their steadfast commitment to quality.

However, we recently received some sobering news. The latest edition of Consumer Reports ranks more than 1,100 hospitals in 44 states against six patient-safety categories. According to their analysis, John Dempsey Hospital’s performance was poor, a situation that is both unacceptable and personally disappointing. Upon closer look, we are confident that if the report used more recent data, our overall score would have improved. Importantly, all of the areas identified as lagging in this report are, and have been, under close scrutiny from clinical administration. Clear and direct strategies have been put in place to address the deficiencies. Even so, we are redoubling our efforts beginning immediately.

While some hospitals question the methodology, I applaud Consumer Reports for drawing attention to the need to improve patient safety in our nation's hospitals. We encourage patients to also look at the source data available through the Connecticut Hospital Association and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Hospital Compare website.

We know we can and must do much better. We will. Nothing is more important.

Frank M. Torti, M.D., M.P.H.
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine