Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Fewer sticks make for happier patients

Dad was in pain. He had been in the hospital for weeks, carting around multiple IV towers anytime he had to get up from the bed.

By then, the nurses had trouble finding veins for the repeated blood culture draws, not to mention new places to stick the IV needles. He grimaced every time the nurses came in for such procedures, particularly in the middle of the night.

Remembering that anguish is why two articles in this issue of ISE magazine really appeal to me. First is the cover story "Six Sigma sticks patients less" on Page 28. Paul Barkley details a Navicent Health project that targeted the blood culture process in the medical center's emergency department. The numbers are beautiful – hundreds of hours shaved off processes, more than a million bucks in costs avoided.

But down in the story is the gem that makes a difference to your patients – fewer contaminated cultures mean less rework. That means fewer needle sticks, which equates to less pain and more comfortable patients.

That's also the beauty of PIVO from Velano Vascular, which Drew Harnish details in Tools & Technologies on Page 58. We rarely talk about products on this page, however, this device merits special attention as it allows consistent blood draws from indwelling peripheral (e.g., arm) IV lines. Having those IV towers do double duty for blood draws would have eased Dad's pain – and maybe allowed him to sleep during the nightly needle sticks.

Such interventions are why I often write that industrial and systems engineers can save the world. It's not total hyperbole – time and again this magazine has shown the value of process improvement, often assisted by technology.

And in healthcare, IISE's Society for Health Systems is leading the way toward improving outcomes and increasing efficiency, often saving lives in the process. The society's Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference is coming up Feb. 21-23 at the Grand Hyatt Atlanta (see www.iise.org/HSPI for more).

So visit www.iise.org/HSPI , go to the conference, alleviate pain and save lives.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IISE. Reach him at mhughes@iise.org or (770) 349-1110.