Award given by American Association of Critical-Care Nurses recognizes nations best intensive care units
The award was created by the AACN in 2003 to challenge acute and critical care nurses to improve the care provided to acutely and critically ill patients.
"This is a tremendous achievement for our surgical ICU and reflects the hard work and dedication of our entire staff in the unit who care for our most seriously ill patients and their families," says Lena M. Napolitano, M.D., chief of acute care surgery at the U-M Health System and professor of surgery at the U-M Medical School. "Excellent nursing care is the foundation for excellence in critical care and we are extremely proud of them for this accomplishment," Napolitano says.
As a Beacon Award recipient, the Surgical ICU at the University of Michigan Health System met or exceeded criteria in recruitment and retention; education, training and mentoring; research and evidence-based practice, patient outcomes, leadership and organization ethics; and healing environment.
Patients from across the region are cared for in the SICU at U-M. The SICU receives all post-operative surgical intensive care cases with the exception of heart and vascular patients.
Cases include transplants, oncology, obstetrics, orthopedics, urology, bowel resections, acute respiratory distress syndrome and H1N1.
U-M has Michigan's only adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation program to provide lung bypass for critically ill patients, and was a referral center during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010.
The surgical intensive care unit/rapid response team at U-M has 85 registered nurses. Approximately 45 percent have worked in the SICU/RRT for more than five years, and nearly a fourth of nurses have been in the unit for more than 10 years.
"The philosophy of the SICU is to always be the best we can be by providing the right care to the right patient," says Mary Ann Bettis, R.N., manager of clinical nursing at U-M Medical Center. "So to accomplish this, we routinely, more than two times a month, look to the literature to provide us the most up-to-date information on treating a variety of disease states related to medical and nursing care."
The SICU exceeded multiple AACN standards in the category of patient outcomes including unplanned extubations, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-related bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and deep vein thrombosis.
The U-M Health System has made a commitment to AACN's Bold Voices concept for over ten years. The philosophy in the SICU includes empowering the nursing staff to stop procedures, voice concerns and advocate for patients when needed.
Each employee plays a critical role in identifying, reporting and resolving conditions that may pose a potential hazard to patients or staff. Actions include sharing with other units the potential problem and solution, and reporting problems to supervisors responsible for implementing resolution. All events, or potential events, that compromise patient of staff safety provide an opportunity to learn to prevent future occurrences.
By winning a Beacon Award, U-M realizes many benefits of having met rigid criteria for excellence, high-quality standards and exceptional care of patients and patients' families:
Influence and Recognition: Units that participate in the Beacon Award process help set the standards for what constitutes an excellent acute or critical care environment through the collection of evidence-based information. Patient safety and quality programs, such as the Leapfrog Group Hospital Quality and Safety Survey, consider Beacon achievement in their evaluation process.
Credibility: Consumers, who are paying much closer attention today to quality-of-care factors with respect to their own healthcare, will take this level of recognition into consideration when choosing a hospital for care or treatment.
Recruitment and Retention: Prospective employees will recognize a Beacon Award unit as a healthy work environment, a place where quality of care is tied directly to quality of staff. Nurses who work in these units will recognize that their skills and expertise are appreciated and valued which boosts employee morale.
Beacon Award units will be recognized and celebrated at AACN's National Teaching Institute (
The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world, representing the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses. Its international headquarters are located in Aliso Viejo, California. Founded in 1969, the Association has more than 240 chapters worldwide and is working toward a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families, where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution.
Written by Thad Green