Quality and safety

Tracking outcomes to ensure the highest quality care

Each day UW Health commits to providing our patients with safe, quality health care helping them stay healthy and returning them to wellness if they become ill.
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Safety data

We measure to maintain excellency

The safety of our patients is a top priority and UW Health has been at the forefront of a number of patient safety initiatives.

What does UW Health safety data show?

How well does UW Health deliver the basics of good care. This includes how well our doctors communicate with our patients and how easy it is to access our services.

How well does UW Health do in helping our patients avoid illness and stay healthy. This includes screenings for disease and health problems, immunizations and other services geared towards healthy living.

How well do we do in helping our patients recover when they are sick or injured. This includes treatment, follow-up care, patient experiences and how happy they are with the care they received.

Does UW Health help our patients with ongoing, chronic conditions take care of themselves, control their symptoms, avoid complications and manage their daily activities.

How well does UW Health care for people and their families with terminal illness. This includes palliative care/end-of-life care, pain management, spiritual care and support for caregivers.

Safety measures

Medication use in hospitals and health systems is highly complex and often involves many distinct steps. Each of these steps offers a possibility for error or patient harm. To reduce the opportunity for medication errors, UW Health has the following systems in place:

  • We use a robotic barcode on each medication to eliminate errors

  • UW Health uses AcuDose medication storage units on our inpatient units. These are highly secure medication dispensing cabinets with limited access. In addition, when medication stock becomes low, an automatic notification is sent to the pharmacy.

  • When a patient is admitted to the hospital, they are issued a barcode wristband. Before any medication is given, the armband and the medication will be scanned to confirm the correct patient is being given the correct dose.

  • “Smart” intravenous infusion pumps are used throughout our hospitals to prevent medication infusion. These pumps have safeguard measures built into the pumps to alert the provider if the dose is incorrect.

Patient falls are among the most common injury reported in hospitals across the country. UW Health is committed to making patient stays safe for everyone by:

  • Equipping all patient bed with exit alarms to alert nursing staff

  • Educating our staff and patients and families on the importance of asking for assistance

The responsibility to keep our patient’s safe belongs to all of our staff and physicians. Each year UW Health employees are given a Culture of Safety survey. The results of this survey that are focused on overall safety, teamwork and communication are then used to make improvements where needed.

We are proud of the excellent nursing care we provide our patients and their families. We are always evaluating the number of nurses we have compared to the number of patients to ensure the best individual patient care.

Conditions and quality measures

Our commitment to quality

UW Health's commitment to quality and patient safety includes providing patients with important information about the quality of the care we provide.

We compare UW Health care to national averages for four common, important conditions: heart attack, heart failure, stroke and pneumonia. For each condition we consider:

  • Patient mortality — The percentage of patients who die within 30 days of being admitted to the hospital.

  • Hospital readmission — The percentage of patients who need to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being released from the hospital.

Conditions and quality measures

Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to the heart. If the blood flow is blocked, the heart starves for oxygen and heart cells die.

How is UW Health doing?

  • UW Health's patient mortality percentage is 14, slightly lower than the national average of 14.2 percent.

  • UW Health's hospital readmission percentage is 17.7, slightly higher than the national average of 17 percent.

UW Health's heart attack care is on par with national averages relative to these two measures.

Heart failure means your heart is not pumping enough blood to your body. It can be caused by heart attacks and several diseases, including heart valve disease and diabetes.

How is UW Health doing?

  • UW Health's patient mortality percentage is 11, slightly lower than the national average of 11.6 percent.

  • UW Health's hospital readmission percentage is 21.1, slightly lower than the national average of 22 percent

UW Health's heart failure care is on par with national averages relative to these two measures.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

How is UW Health doing?

  • UW Health's patient mortality percentage is 16.2, slightly higher than the national average of 14.8 percent.

  • UW Health's hospital readmission percentage is 10.5, slightly lower than the national average of 12.7 percent.

UW Health's stroke care is on par with national averages relative to these two measures

Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria or a virus.

How is UW Health doing?

  • UW Health's patient mortality percentage is 10.7, slightly lower than the national average of 11.5 percent.

  • UW Health's hospital readmission percentage is 15.9, slightly lower than the national average of 16.9 percent.

UW Health's pneumonia care is on par with national averages relative to these two measures.

Accreditaiton

Exceeding national standards

Our mission includes the provision of safe, high-quality health care. If a health care organization provides care that meets or exceeds national standards, there is a strong likelihood that patients will experience positive outcomes.

Participating in an accreditation program is one way to assure we are continually striving to improve the quality and safety of the services we provide.

Accreditated programs

The Joint Commission is a not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs across the United States.

The Joint Commission routinely conducts surveys that measure performance in key areas, such as patient care, patient rights, medication management, infection control, emergency management, environmental safety, leadership and human resources. The surveys involve unannounced onsite visits to evaluate care processes and provide feedback on ways to improve.

UW Health has received the Gold Seal of Approval from the Joint Commission for:

  • University Hospital

  • Home Care Services

  • Laboratory Services

University Hospital is verified by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as a Level I Trauma Center for both pediatric and adult patients, with an ACS-verified Burn Center. This review process involves nationally recognized standards for providing a systemic approach to trauma and burn care with trained and capable personnel, adequate facilities, and ongoing self-assessment.

Our Organ and Tissue Donation program is one of the most successful programs in the nation and is accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). AOPO has established clinical, ethical and organizational standards for Organ Procurement organizations. Voluntary accreditation demonstrates and organization’s compliance with federal regulations and national AOPO standards.

Numerous national agencies measure the performance of health care programs against specialty standards. Regular performance reviews involve staff interviews, observation and document reviews.

The following UW Hospitals and Clinics programs and services are recognized by respective regulatory agencies:

  • Bariatric Surgery

  • Laboratory Services

  • Blood Banks

  • Orthotic and Prosthetic Services

  • Hematopoetic Stem Cell Program

  • Mammography and Ultrasound

  • Inpatient Rehabilitation Services

  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Laboratory

  • Transplant