System-Based Multidisciplinary Initiatives for Improvement in Tracheostomy Care and Safety: Experience of an Academic Health Institution Hospital Network
Keywords:tracheostomy, system-based practice, quality improvement, patient safety
Tracheostomized patients represent a unique patient population at risk of life-threatening airway compromise. There can be a presumption that these patients have a “safe” or low-risk airway. Clinicians and other care providers may be unfamiliar with both tracheostomy tubes and best practices for tracheostomy maintenance, assessment, and emergency triage or resuscitation. A review of the highest- acuity emergency airway calls at our university hospital revealed that well over 20% of the emergencies that triggered these activations were in patients with existing tracheostomy tubes. Further analysis of the tracheostomy-related airway emergencies at that time was very informative.
Under the auspices of our multidisciplinary airway safety committee, we developed a core tracheostomy-focused team and implemented numerous quality and safety initiatives. Here we present a focused review and discussion of tracheostomy-related clinical issues at the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) and a summary of quality and safety improvement efforts related to the care of tracheostomized patients based on responses to locally identified safety opportunities.
Our experience with tracheostomy-related quality improvement (QI) efforts led us to reach out to the Patient Safety Authority. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) data presented by Gardner et al. highlights the categories of airway-related events documented across a range of facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We frame our efforts in the context of both the PA-PSRS data and international perspectives from the U.K. and highlight barriers to implementation and learnings from our iterative and interdisciplinary approach to tracheostomy-related challenges.
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