KU helps quality of hospitals nationwide

As a nursing quality survey by Kansas University’s School of Nursing grows to reach more hospitals across the nation, the program is gaining fans on the Internet.

A New Jersey nurse who complained about problems at her hospital on the blog The Operating Room sang KU’s praises after the program surveyed her hospital and helped it make improvements.

“Round of applause!” the anonymous blogger nurse said in comments being forwarded around the Web.

“Thanks University of Kansas for making these people take a long hard look at themselves in black and white.”

Hospitals are taking hard, honest looks at the quality of their care as more external agencies and patients call for the information, said Susan Thomas, outcomes coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

“It’s really been big for the last five years,” Thomas said. “I think there’s going to be more and more demand for this information.”

KU since 1999 has helped operate the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators. The program has grown from 36 participating hospitals to 940, representing every state and Washington, D.C. KU manages and runs the program for the American Nurses Assn.

KU gathers survey information from staffing levels to the number of times patients fall and the number of pressure ulcers. High numbers of falls or pressure ulcers indicate problems.

KU provides quarterly reports on how hospitals compare to others of similar size or to all participating hospitals.

“The primary purpose is quality improvement,” said Nancy Dunton, NDNQI’s project director. “Quality improvement has been around for decades. I don’t think it will ever go away.”

Dunton said NDNQI is unique because of its national scope. It also compares facilities at the unit level, rather than the hospital level so, for example, an intensive care unit can be compared to others.

The survey also links staffing statistics to how patients do in the hospital.

In the case of the New Jersey blogger, she works at a hospital that struggles with certain processes, such as the sterility of medical devices and supplies. The survey, the blogger wrote, allowed the hospital to take an honest look at itself and how it racked up to other hospitals.

Dunton said KU plans to expand the program to gather additional information such as the number of hospital-acquired infections.