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Aurora Health Care Receives top national recognition for patient safety

Monday, March 10, 2003

MILWAUKEE, Aurora Health Care has received national recognition from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices for its accomplishments in patient safety.

The Institute selected Aurora for its top award in the category of community involvement in medication safety awareness. The institute is a non-profit organization that is well known throughout the nation and around the world as an educational resource for the prevention of medication errors.

This is the second national recognition Aurora has received for its work in patient safety. In May, Aurora will receive the Premier Quality Performance award for clinical outcome excellence in patient safety. The award recognizes an organization that has made substantial achievements in delivering high-quality health care.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices recognized Aurora for establishing a Blue Ribbon Task Force of community representatives to work with Aurora’s senior leaders on patient safety initiatives. The Blue Ribbon Task Force, which included senior executives of several leading Wisconsin corporations and experts in the area of health care, recommended that Aurora focus on a medication event reporting system and use technology to reduce the potential for medication errors.

The recommendations led to the establishment of a Medication Error Reduction Team and the development of a systemwide medication event reporting process that is now in place at all 12 of Aurora’s acute care hospitals as well as at 100 clinics, over 125 retail pharmacies, and home health care services.

“A key element of our commitment to enhance safety is the involvement of the community, which has helped us to approach our initiatives from the patient’s perspective,” said Susan Ela, R.N., senior clinical vice president of Aurora.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices commended Aurora for incorporating patient safety into its strategic focus and recognized Aurora’s development of a computerized patient record system that is being implemented throughout the organization. One component of the system is an electronic prescription program. By the end of this year, all Aurora physicians will use either this desktop prescription program or handheld computers when they write prescriptions.

Computerized prescription writing prevents errors stemming from illegible handwriting and also alerts physicians to patient drug allergies, dangerous drug interactions and inappropriate dosages. In 2003, Aurora physicians will write a projected 1.4 million prescriptions using computers, preventing an estimated 58,000 medication errors.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices honored Aurora and two other health care providers as part of National Patient Safety Awareness Week March 9 – 15, 2003.

The high cost of medical errors and Aurora’s work in patient safety were the focus of Aurora’s First Monday Report for March, published last week in newspapers throughout eastern Wisconsin. The First Monday Reports are part of Aurora’s Three-Part Commitment to address health costs in Wisconsin. More information is available at

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora has care sites in 75 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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