By Marleta Reynolds, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief; Chair, Department of Pediatric Surgery; Lydia J. Fredrickson Professor of Pediatric Surgery; Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Lurie Children’s Hospital was among the first three hospitals in the country to be recognized as a Level 1 pediatric surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. In fact, we were also the first children’s hospital in Illinois to receive this distinction. It is a badge of honor for sure, but families may wonder, what does it really mean?
Quite frankly it means safety. Because in order to receive this honor, a hospital has to commit to provide resources well above and beyond what would normally be expected. It means that Lurie Children’s is one of the safest hospitals in the region for providing all levels of patient care.
For instance, in addition to pediatric surgeons, we have board-certified anesthesiologists, radiologists, trauma and emergency medicine physicians available to patients 24/7. We provide round-the-clock intensive care for children and infants of all ages, including severely premature newborns. And we have the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) recognized by the state of Illinois, which is able to provide critical care for even the most complex newborns.
We have also set up a continual quality improvement program, always asking ourselves, how can something be done better, and using data to drive that discussion. A dashboard of quality indicators has been set up and any issues are flagged immediately. In addition, hospital teams meet monthly to review the data and modify processes. Safety and improving quality of care in real time drives all decisions.
In real life, it means that through careful monitoring, trends can be quickly identified and enhancements can be made. For instance, a multidisciplinary team reviewed current protocols for treating a child who presents in our Emergency Room after swallowing a button battery, a somewhat common occurrence. Together, this team of specialists from emergency medicine, gastroenterology, pediatric surgery and otolaryngology convened and developed new best practice guidelines. As a result, now when a child presents with this as the chief complaint, the Electronic Health Record is immediately triggered and the enhanced protocol is activated, which collectively provides even better care for the patient. Real time recognition leading to real time changes.
And we don’t stop there. We also provide our children’s surgery teams with education, training, leadership and research opportunities.
Because to receive the Level 1 recognition, a hospital has to be committed. Committed to providing the highest level of patient care each day on all levels from the simplest procedure to the most complex heart transplant.
I am very proud that Lurie Children’s has made that commitment. As a hospital it is a wonderful recognition, but ultimately it is our patients who benefit. And I am most proud of that.