South Carolina hospitals collaborate on safety

Working with TJC to improve systems

The Joint Commission’s Center for Transforming Healthcare has started working with 20 hospitals in South Carolina to improve their safety by examining systems, processes, and structures in an effort to minimize variability in practices.

Focusing on elements perfected by high-reliability industries, the hospitals will meet regularly to create projects, do survey assessments about their organizations, and come up with ways to improve what they do so that harm is reduced, quality is improved, and costs decrease. They will use a Web-based application to figure out which practices to focus on and assess how they are doing in those vital areas.

“Eventually, we hope this will include all the members of the South Carolina Hospital Association,” says Colleen Smith, RN, MBA, CPHQ, director of high reliability initiatives at the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. “The other hospitals will be pulled in as the work moves forward,” she says.

What is different about this collaboration is that it isn’t a single project. “There is no end point,” says Smith. While the commission will stop working with the group in three years, the aim is for life as South Carolina hospitals know it to change forever with this collaboration. Once they start, they don’t stop.

“The work of high reliability is forever,” she says. The initiative came from South Carolina to The Joint Commission, in part because of personal relationships between leaders at TJC and the hospital association. It’s possible that in the future, success in South Carolina might breed other such efforts in other states.

Over the summer, and regularly after that, the collaboration will update watchers with news of its efforts and the results they achieve. Tools they use may also be made available to the wider public.

For more information on this topic, contact Colleen Smith, RN, MBA, CPHQ, Director, High Reliability Initiatives, Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, Oakbrook Terrace, IL. Email: