Central Maine Healthcare’s first concern is providing safe, therapeutic care to our patients, and we recognize that, to do this, we need to equip our nursing teams with the tools they need to succeed. Open and effective communication among healthcare providers occurs thanks to advanced information technology (IT), and regular reviews and updates to our safety guidelines give nurses clarity in how they can better care for patients. Our efforts have been recognized nationally, but we never cease looking for ways to improve our care.
National Recognition for Quality and Safety
The nursing teams, along with all providers at CMH, understand that patient safety is our highest priority, regardless of where patients receive care. Central Maine Medical Center has received multiple annual A grades from the Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization. The Leapfrog Group has named Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital as Top Rural Hospitals, as well. The Leapfrog Group assesses hospital quality based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.
CMH also contributes to the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI), a national database that collects data that are then used to improve the quality of nursing care. This partnership allows us to continually improve the quality of care throughout all CMH facilities.
EMR: Ensuring Continuity of Care
Information technology (IT) plays a crucial role in health care, and CMH has received HealthCare’s Most Wired award, which recognizes excellence and patient safety and outcomes in healthcare IT. Our investments in IT include implementing electronic medical records (EMR), which allow CMH to maintain accurate, up-to-date information about patients in our facilities. We use the Cerner® EMR at all three CMH acute care hospitals and have individualized the system to suit the needs of our nurses and other healthcare providers. Our teams now have the ability to access real-time information about inpatient care, emergency care, medical imaging, pharmacy and computerized provider order entry for each of our patients.
Not only does our EMR enable us to standardize care for patients, it also reduces stress on providers concerned about making errors and improves the efficiency with which they are able to provide care to patients.
Rapid Response Teams Improve Outcomes
An offshoot of our investments in EMR is the rapid response team (RRT). When a provider identifies physiological abnormalities in a patient that increase the risk of adverse clinical events, such as unexpected breathing problems or chest pain, the provider can call for an RRT from anywhere in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
RRTs include a variety of providers, such as intensive care unit nurses and respiratory therapists, who:
- Respond to team member concerns about a patient experiencing early warning signs of decline
- Initiate or assist with interventions to stabilize the patient
- Make recommendations to the healthcare team as needed
- Expedite transfer of the patient to appropriate higher level of care
Early recognition improves the safety and effectiveness of medical care and helps assure optimal outcomes.
Teamwork and communication are critical to keeping patients safe and improving quality of care. CMH nurses use the four-part Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) communication system to keep fellow team members up to speed about patients’ conditions and alert fellow providers about problems that need immediate attention.
The SBAR technique helps CMH nurses:
- Organize information in preparation for communicating with a physician about a patient
- Give a report to another caregiver in an organized, focused format
- Provide information to an emergency team responding to a critical situation