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Medical center earns statewide patient safety award

Augusta, GA


Using a stuffed bunny as the patient, Georgia Regents University students Colleen Harter (from left), Megan Comer and Leigh Ellison practice skills during an asepsis training course. Georgia Regents Medical Center, where the students complete their clinical course work, earned a statewide award for developing the program to reduce surgical site infections.

Georgia Regents Medical Center has earned a prestigious award for its efforts in reducing infections that can result from disease-causing germs in health care environments.

The hospital received the Josh Nahum Special Achievement Award for Infection Prevention and Control from the Partnership for Health and Accountability, a subsidiary of the Georgia Hospital Association, for cutting down surgical site infections through an aggressive asepsis program.

“We achieved this recognition not only for improving patient safety, but for effectively collaborating to raise the bar,” said Dr. William Kanto, Georgia Regents Medical Center’s senior vice president for medical affairs and chief medical officer. “Infection control in a hospital doesn’t belong to any one person, or discipline; it involves everyone. We all want to do what is right for our patients.”

After data showed that the surgical site infection rate, or SSI, was higher than expected, a performance improvement team was formed in 2008. The team discovered an opportunity to improve the way Georgia Regents University students, who spend a significant portion of their education in the hospital, were trained in surgical aseptic/sterile techniques.
Previous training for students had consisted of little more than watching an instructional video. So, the hospital epidemiology department, working in conjunction with the GRU faculty and representatives in key clinical areas, developed and implemented a formal asepsis program. The new curriculum incorporates classroom instruction and hands-on training and requires that students pass a skills competency test in a simulated operating room.

Since the program’s creation, more than 2,500 individuals have completed the training, which has grown to include transient students coming for observerships and rotations, as well as hospital employees whose job places them in a surgical setting outside the operating room, such as the electrophysiology or cardiac catheterization labs.  In addition, SSI rates at the medical center are trending downward, and skills and techniques have been standardized based on best practices.

“We’ve been very successful with the program so far,” said Rebecca Walker, the hospital’s epidemiology director. “As we train people and they begin to use the appropriate techniques, they become role models for others.”

“Infection prevention and proper education are key components to better patient safety,” said Georgia Hospital Association President Joseph Parker. “We applaud Georgia Regents Medical Center for its leadership and dedication in these areas and its commitment to providing the best and safest care possible for its patients.”

The Josh Nahum Special Achievement Award for Infection Prevention and Control was established in 2007 by Victoria and Armando Nahum – in partnership with the Georgia Hospital Association – in memory of their son Josh, who died from a healthcare-associated infection.

About PHA
The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA), a subsidiary of GHA, was established in January 2000 to improve patient care and patient safety in hospitals and other health care facilities and create healthy communities.

About GHA
Established in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospitals and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.

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