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Kickoff Event at Simon Fraser University Opens Students’ Eyes to the World of QI

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, January 22, 2014
By Tomoko McGaughey, Simon Fraser University, Chapter Leader, and Kerry Campbell, Simon Fraser University, Chapter Leader 

As a new IHI Open School Chapter at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, Canada, we were excited to host our debut speakers’ event this past November. It was our first opportunity to expose the students of SFU and surrounding institutions to the principles of IHI, and to show them how applying these principles can make a difference in the real world. 

Our keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Dean Chittock, Senior Medical Director at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and Regional Medical Director of Critical Care Medicine at Vancouver Coast Health Authority. Dr. Chittock was able to share his experience using quality improvement (QI) processes in the intensive care unit (ICU) at VGH, Canada’s second largest hospital. 

As Dr. Chittock explained, changes at VGH became necessary when occupancy rates in the ICU grew to exceed local requirements. To improve patient care, he and his team turned to QI methods. They set goals to reduce patients’ length of stay and lower rates of readmission — which, in the long run, would reduce occupancy in the ICU. 

Through their research and observations, the team determined that the best way to shorten patients’ length of stay was through a change in sedation practices. By reducing the amount of sedative medication they received, patients were able to begin rehabilitation sooner. This allowed them to walk and return to normal function sooner, allowing them to be discharged sooner.

It was later shown that this QI project not only reduced patients’ length of stay and improved turnover within the ICU, it also led to improvements in other quality indicators, including a lower rate of patient deaths. 

After Dr. Chittock’s wonderful presentation, the audience had the opportunity to network and discuss what they learned. Many audience members expressed a feeling that their eyes had been opened to a new sector of health care; for many, this was their first exposure to the field of QI. 

The executive team of the IHI Open School SFU Chapter would like to thank all of the participating parties for joining us in our first speakers’ event. We hope you will continue to support us in future events, as we strive to expose more students to the world of health care improvement.
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