Strategies for success: A PDSA analysis of three QI initiatives in critical care

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2008 Aug;34(8):435-44. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(08)34054-9.


Background: Implementation of evidence-based quality improvement (QI) initiatives is not without its challenges. Recent experience in the design, implementation, and evaluation of three QI initiatives at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) suggests lessons learned that may be generalizable to other QI initiatives. INITIATIVES: Between December 2002 and May 2006, a ventilator bundle of care and a tight glycemic control (TGC) protocol were implemented in the intensive care units (ICUs), and early goal-directed therapy (EGDT) for patients with severe sepsis or septic shock was implemented in the ICUs and emergency department. The initiatives were selected on the basis of the magnitude of the problem, strength of the evidence regarding associated reductions in morbidity and mortality in the critically ill, and cost-effectiveness.

Lessons learned: A number of challenges in QI processes and strategies for success were identified via retrospective analysis within the construct of the Plan-Do-Study-Act model, representing a novel use of the model. Pitfalls most commonly occurred in the planning stage. Suggested strategies for success include using an interdisciplinary team, selecting a champion, securing additional resources, identifying specific goals and providing feedback on progress, using work-flow analyses and stepwise implementation and/or pilot testing, creating standard work, eliciting feedback from staff, and celebrating successes. The knowledge gained from these initiatives has been disseminated at UCSF, and the initiatives have helped to raise general awareness regarding the importance of quality.

Conclusions: The ventilator bundle of care, TGC, and EGDT are still in use at UCSF, with modification of the initiatives occurring as new evidence becomes available.

MeSH terms

  • Critical Care / standards*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Glycemic Index
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Retrospective Studies
  • San Francisco