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November 21, 2008

PICU Receives National Recognition for Safety

PICU Receives National Recognition for Safety

Jannell Plouffe, RN BScN, MN, Nurse Practitioner PICU, loves being part of this dynamic team.

Jannell Plouffe likes to think of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) as "The Little Engine That Could." Like that fabled engine, our PICU is not as large as other centres in Toronto or Vancouver. And like the fable, the PICU has proven to be a leader. In fact, this year the PICU has been recognized nationally for contributions to safer patient care and for developing a culture of safety in the Unit. THE PICU is part of the Children's Program of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

The first accolade came when the Canadian ICU Collaborative nominated PICU as a Safer Health Care Now "Team Success Story" for frontline safe practice improvement.

A grant from the Children's Hospital Foundation (CHF) allowed the team to join the Canadian ICU Collaborative and be able to send reps to national meetings. The knowledge and expertise gained at these meetings is brought back to the rest of the HSC team.

Jannell credits the Collaborative with creating a new culture of shared knowledge and resources between many hospitals across the country. "The benefits are enormous," says Jannell. "We now have a national network of professionals who are all concerned with getting it better for the kids!"

A second, and unprecedented, achievement was having two PICU submissions named among the five finalists in the Quality Healthcare Network Canadian Health Excellence in Quality (CHEQA) Awards. Never before have two projects from the same organization been nominated as finalists for this award.

The first PICU submission involved implementing a Pediatric Rapid Response Team - one of only two such pioneering teams in Canada in 2006. The model was developed in partnership with BC Children's Hospital, and has since been adopted by other hospitals.

The second submission was a project to reduce central venous line bloodstream infections. These infections used to occur in 3-4 cases per year. Since introducing the project in 2004, PICU has had only 4 such infections! In addition to preventing patient and family distress, cutting the infection rate has also saved thousands of dollars per year.

While the recognition is nice, Jannell is most proud of the gains made in people practice and safety culture in PICU. She credits the PICU team for being open to new ways of doing things and for developing a patient-centred atmosphere of trust.

PICU has implemented many safe culture practices, including regular "safety huddles." Multi-disciplinary, clinical and support staff meet every week. The group reviews current reports and suggests process improvements. Jannell appreciates the involvement of support staff. "They see things others don't, and some of the best suggestions for better practice have come from support workers."

Jannell is grateful for the support of the Children's Hospital Foundation. Currently the PICU team is developing a screening tool for severe sepsis. The project, supported by a grant from CHF, has already resulted in dramatic improvements in mortality rates.

Jannell is energized by the excellent staff in PICU. Together they are working at continuously improving their practices and process in order to save lives. The little engine is picking up steam.

- Lorie Mayer

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