Quality of Caring Snapshots @ Upstate

At University Hospital we are committed to patient and family centered care. While most of this website is dedicated to details from outcome reports, here are some of our recent quality initiatives.

The Highest Standard for Stroke Care Is GOLD

doctor with stroke patient

Upstate University Hospital's stroke program received its second consecutive Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. The award recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in implementing excellent care for stroke patients.

Upstate University Hospital is the only hospital in Central New York that has a dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit, the capability to treat stroke patients beyond the three-hour window with clot retrieval, and the ability to give concentrated clot buster medication directly to the area of the brain that is affected. It is also the region's only telestroke center, treating and serving as a resource for the care of stroke patients in outlying hospitals through telemedicine.

The Clinical Documentation Improvement Program

doctor and cdi specialist

The Clinical Documentation Improvement program at Upstate University Hospital means more than just better record keeping. The five CDI specialists – all Registered Nurses – work to improve patient care by ensuring that everyone on the health care team uses the same specific language in their reports while the patient is in the hospital.

For a patient with congestive heart failure, for example, it's important for the physician to note whether it's acute or chronic, or systolic or diastolic in nature. That information helps all caregivers deliver optimum care for the patients.

When caregivers use the same language the hospital sees results, including more satisfied patients and proper reimbursement from insurance carriers.

Among the Top Hospitals for Bariatric Surgery

bariatric surgery

Upstate University Hospital has been named among the top hospitals in the nation for bariatric surgery. It was one of only 48 hospitals in the U.S. (out of 478 analyzed) to receive the 2012 Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award.

Upstate was given a 5-star rating by HealthGrades, an independent source of physician information and quality outcomes. In 5-star hospitals patients were 72 percent less likely to experience complications and spent less time at the hospital, compared to 1-star hospitals.

Upstate's team includes surgeons, nurses, dieticians and counselors. In addition to causing significant long-term weight loss, bariatric surgery has been shown to reverse common complications of obesity, including type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.

Fully Accredited Chest Pain Center

chest pain center accreditation

Upstate University Hospital is a fully Accredited Chest Pain Center. Hospitals that earn this accreditation are experts in managing patients who arrive with symptoms of a heart attack.

To become accredited, Upstate:

  • Reduced the time that a patient is diagnosed and treated;
  • Treats patients more quickly;
  • Monitors patients to make sure they are not sent home too soon.

At Upstate, when someone arrives complaining of chest pain, a signal that he or she may be having a heart attack, he or she goes directly to the "Cath Lab" for a cardiac catheterization. Doctors determine if any artery blockages need to be stented or if bypass surgery is required. This all happens within the first 60 to 90 minutes of arrival β€”the critical time window when the heart muscle can be best saved.

Cipher Discharge Phone Team

discharge phone team

A new program at Upstate University Hospital calls patients after they are discharged and uses that information to improve patient care and satisfaction. Nearly 8,400 patients provided feedback in the first nine months and satisfaction scores went up.

Depending on patients' responses to questions about their discharge instructions, medications or follow-up appointments, a Registered Nurse or another staffer from the Discharge Phone Call Team at Upstate Connect will make a follow-up call within 24 hours, if needed.

Feedback from the calls is collected, analyzed and shared with hospital supervisors. Patients may suggest areas for improvement, and have an opportunity to recognize employees and physicians.

For Every Patient, Nurses Bring Quality to the Bedside

Patients receive a visit from a nurse every hour during the day, and every two hours at night. The nurses make sure each patient is comfortable and have everything each one needs. Called "nurse rounding" it is a proven method to ensure quality care and increase patient satisfaction. The nurse checks five areas for patient comfort, including addressing any pain or the need to reposition. If the patient is awake, the nurse will ask: "Is there anything else I can do before I leave?" By being consistent with each visit, patients can see we are committed to providing very good care, explains Megan Greenman, MSN, one of the nurse leaders on the project.

University Hospital's Pharmacy β€” the Gold Standard for Patient Safety and Efficiency

University Hospital's pharmacy and drug delivery system is one of the most advanced in the state. Bar code technology is used to triple check each drug order. The pharmacy also has three industry-standard "clean rooms" for mixing intravenous medications and chemotherapy drugs. The hospital has been ranked as the best performer among academic medical centers in a national medication safety benchmarking project by the University Health Consortium.
In addition, all orders for medications, therapies and tests, come through the hospital's Computerized Physician Order Entry system (CPOE). CPOE transmits the doctors' orders — often from the patient's bedside — directly to the staff who carry them out. This method is acknowledged to be the gold standard for patient safety and efficiency.

Employee Flu Shots Above State Average

flu shots
Hospital employees, no matter what their job, are dedicated to keeping patients healthy. The "red dot" on ID badges shows that the bearer got a flu shot – and thus greatly reducing the chance of sharing illness with others. Studies show that when more employees are vaccinated, health improves for all. The number of University Hospital employees who volunteered to get vaccinated is above the state average.

Streamlining Patient Flow from the Emergency Department

A team of professionals from across the hospital found ways to streamline patient flow from the Emergency Department. A new communication system moves patients quickly from the ER to their beds. The team was awarded Upstate’s President’s Clinical Team of the Year Award in 2009.

In the Top 20 Percent of Cancer Care Nationwide


University Hospital is ranked by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer in the top 20 percent of cancer care nationwide, and is the only site in Syracuse accredited by this organization. University Hospital treats 16,000 cancer patients each year. It is building on its expertise to establish a dedicated Cancer Center to provide consolidated care for patients and further opportunities for clinical trials and research. Cancer is one of the most common chronic diseases in NY state, and second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death.

Longest Accreditation Period

pediatric doc with young patient

Each year, University Hospital draws 450 medical residents and fellows who choose to cap their education here. The pediatric residency program, which hosts 40 new doctors for three years of training, was recently awarded the longest accreditation period by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) of five years. Nationally, fewer than one-third of residency programs receive this honor.