The Partnership for Health and Accountability (PHA) presented its prestigious Quality and Patient Safety Award to Effingham Health System in Springfield for its project that improved patient education. The project titled, “Improving Patient Education and Retention,” won third place in the Critical Access Hospitals Category. These annual awards recognize Georgia health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes.

Studies have shown that many patient readmissions can be avoided through proper patient education and retention. Ensuring that patients understand their diagnoses and medications and that they absorb and remember this information before being discharged is crucial to avoiding readmissions. 

The goal of Effingham’s project was to provide patients with necessary information related to their diagnoses and medications and ensure they understood the information before being discharged. Success of the project would be gauged by core measures in the care of pneumonia and congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. Core measures are systematic approaches to treating diagnoses that result in better outcomes. For example, one of the core measures for CHF patients is to provide them with written discharge instructions and list of medications. A core measure for pneumonia patients is to administer an antibiotic as soon as possible.

Nurses provided step-by-step instructions to patients and explained the importance of correctly following each step. Next, nurses had the patients demonstrate that they understood the information by having them answer a series of questions related to the information.

Results showed core measure data for pneumonia and CHF to be at 100 percent, up from 73.4 percent for pneumonia and 88.9 percent for CHF.

“Proper patient education is essential in avoiding readmissions,” said Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) President Joseph Parker. “We applaud Effingham Health System for its leadership and dedication in this critical area and its commitment to providing the best and safest care possible for its patients.”


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