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Health Quality Assurance

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            Health quality assurance are measures put by health care providers to ensure better quality in the provision of heath care and award providers as well as promote better health practices. SLP (Speech Language Pathology) is one of the cares provided by health care facilities. It is also referred to as speech therapy, which refers to the study and treatment of human communication and its disorders (ExploreHEALTHCareers.org). For the purpose of this paper, SSM Health Centers are going to be the focus of study.

Organizational Structure of SSM Health Centers

            Mother Mary Odilla Berger founded SSM Health Centers about 103 years ago. She had migrated with four other sisters to the USA from Germany. They arrived in St. Louis on November 16, 1872 during the small pox epidemic. They were named The Sisters of St Mary. They began nursing smallpox patients in the area (SSM Health).

            The Facility is sponsored by the Franciscan sisters of Mary and operates as a private not for profit health care system. It has an organizational structure that is structured in three levels, namely, system, network and entity. The system level is concerned with system management and establishes the overall direction of the facility. It ensures regulatory compliance, sharing of knowledge, monitors organizational performance and uses the system’s size to achieve economies of scale. The network level coordinates the delivery of care, facilitates communication, cooperation and sharing of knowledge and skills and provides support services. Entity focuses on meeting community needs and delivering care to their patients (SSM Health).

The Facility Quality Assurance Program

            The facility is committed to continuous quality improvement. It has established special safety requirements for employees. These measures include ergonomics, exposure control through sharp alternatives, hazardous and bio hazardous material management, life and environmental safety emergency preparedness (SSM Health).

            The facility used evidence based patient centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long term, participative relationships in the care for its patients. Safe and exceptional care is provided for all patients in this facility. Because of this, the facility has received the level three designations by National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This recognition is proof that the facility aim for high quality health care has borne fruits. One of the high-ranking officials at the facility considers this recognition as the highest honor. He considers this the highest level that can be offered to a health facility.

            Teamwork and information technology has been adopted to improve patients’ experience of care and reduce cost. The adoption of information technology ensures the hospital makes use of the modern innovation hence making the hospital operate using the modern practices in health care. Clinician led care teams that coordinate treatments across the health care system oversee each patient’s care. This helps the facility to operate the home based care effectively and the teams allow for closer monitoring of the patients. The teamwork strategy helps to make sure that everyone is responsible for what is done by his or her team and are answerable to the team members (SSM Health). The strategy emphasizes on access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on the patients. This shows that the hospital is committed to providing quality health care to its patients.

            As part of its strategy in quality health care, the hospital also focuses on mandatory requirements for quality assurance. The employees of the facility were required to take a mandatory flu immunization. This was offered as a free program at a clinic set up in a hall outside one of its centers. However, individuals may be allowed to refuse the vaccine but must first fill a form indicating they have taken the immunization elsewhere or sign an exemption waiver. The waiver required a signature from a medical doctor or provider or from a religious leader. However, those who take the waiver are required to take additional precautionary measures at work (SSM Health).

A “never event” at the SSM Health Centers

            A never event is defined as an event that should never take place during provision of health care. It is categorized into six by AHRQ and comprises twenty-nine never events. Among these never events include those related to surgery. This is what happened at SSM Health Center.

It happened at one of the centers, a neural surgeon on the wrong side of the patient’s brain. The patient in question was a fifty three year old woman. On this occasion, the neural surgeon operated on the wrong side of the woman’s skull and brain. Since the state in which this incident occurredit is not mandatory to report such incidents, the details of that occurrence were not available. However, this incident generated all the heat expected from such a serious occurrence.

            The case got high publicity arising from the media. It placed the facility at a very delicate situation and therefore the facility needed to do a lot to safe its image. It also had to assure the people and those concerned with health care quality assurance that such an event will never occur again. Because of this botched surgery, the hospital had to waive the patient’s surgery and hospitalization bills as investigations were being carried out. It is to be noted the damage caused by such an error cannot be appeased through waiver of bills. The situation could be life threatening and even lead to serious incapacitation. Due to this incident, the facility became the source of media attacks. The state and federal authorities carried out investigations concerning this case. There were litigations and everyone from the facility’s authorities was hell bent to establish what took place during the surgery.

            SSM Health Center carried out its own investigations, which it promised to share with the Joint Commission, an independent commission concerned with provision of quality health care. The State Department of Health and Senoir Services and the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (St Louis Post Dispatch) were also investigating the case.

            The gravity of the case is enhanced by the fact that there are set standards regarding carrying out surgical operations. There is a Universal Protocol for surgeons. This protocol includes an extensive checklist for safety procedures for surgeons and operating teams. The Joint Commission developed this protocol. It is not possible to establish that such a protocol was followed during this operation. However, there are strong indications that these procedures were probably not followed thereby leading to the botched up surgery. It is also not clear what disciplinary action was taken against the doctor and the team that was involved in the operation (St Louis Post Dispatch).

            For a health care of such reputation as SSM Health Center to be involved in such a serious occurrence of a never event is indeed mind blowing. The hospital has been in existence for long and it is to be noted that the facility had received awards for its focus on provision of quality health care.

Conclusion             Provision of quality health care is paramount for every health care provider in any nation and state. The health of a nation is of great importance to its people and leadership. Health care providers are mandated with a duty to provide the best care to their patients.

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