Are hospital acquired infections hurting your bottom line?

January 16, 2018

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reduced payments for 751 hospitals in fiscal 2018 due to high rates of hospital-acquired conditions. The CDC reports that 722,000 HAI’s occur in U.S. acute care hospitals every year, resulting in 75,000 deaths. Studies show that 70% of these cases are preventable if healthcare providers make a “conscious effort” to follow specific steps.

  • Do you think your staff lacks the ability to follow safety protocols?
  • Or is the problem motivating staff to passionately adhere to them?

The Problem: Two out of 3 staff are disengaged (Gallup, 2017). They have lost their motivation to provide the best possible patient care due to:

Stress = Fear + Anger (+ Time = Burnout)

It’s impossible to avoid the stress associated with working in a hospital. Stress evokes the fight of flight response, which staff experiences as fear and anger. Over time, unrelenting stress leads staff to burning out and disengaging.

  • Burnout levels 2017: 46% for physicians (Mayo) and 63% for RN’s (Kronos).
  • Primary symptom of burnout: losing the capacity to care about others
  • Result: poor communication and teamwork = patient safety problems

The Solution: Teach staff to engage in positive practices. The PROPEL performance improvement program has been developed in a major academic medical center and tested in a wide variety of hospitals.

  • Unit using PROPEL reduced surgical site infections by 50%
  • Staff satisfaction and engagement increased >80%
  • HCHAPS scores improved >50%
  • Turnover and FMLA deceased 75%
  • 5 year follow up found staff had maintained their improvements

PROPEL is based on positive psychology – the study of optimal human functioning. Over 10 years of research has shown that teaching hospital staff to use 6 positive practices enables them to function at their best, as individuals and as a team.

Key Questions That PROPEL Positive Practices!

To increase PASSION for creating positive results, ask questions designed to create both a long-term vision and short-term solutions.

✔ What would make working here a great experience for you?

✔ What would a positive outcome to our biggest problem look like?

To create RELATIONSHIPS that are collaborative, ask:

✔ What ideas do you have for making teamwork really terrific?

✔ Who could you turn to for support to help you deal with this problem?

To improve OPTIMISM, ask:

✔ How can our team more consistently perform at its best?

✔ What’s made us good at solving this kind of problem in the past?

To teach people to be PROACTIVE, rather than reactive, ask:

✔ What’s the most important action we could take to improve our unit?

✔ What’s the first step to take to move toward a positive outcome?

To generate ENERGY among the staff, ask:

✔ What could we do to take better care of each other?

✔ What enables you to rejuvenate yourself?

To understand the LEGACY each individual wants to leave, ask:

✔ What would make a meaningful difference in our patient’s experience?

✔ What do you believe would make it safer for our patients?

(From PROPEL to Quality Healthcare: Six Steps to Improve Patient Care, Staff Engagement and the Bottom Line, CRC Press, 2017, page 72)

To get your free chapter of Propel to Quality Healthcare, go to

The learn more about how to reduce HAI’s in your hospital by enabling your staff to PROPEL to higher levels of engagement, go to or contact Dr. Tom Muha:

Phone: 410-990-1300


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