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19th MDG excels in Joint Commission inspection

Lt. Col. Micah Schmidt, 19th Medical Group chief of medical staff, demonstrates checking in for an appointment.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Micah Schmidt, 19th Medical Group chief of medical staff, demonstrates checking in for an appointment at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 19, 2019. The 19th MDG recently underwent a two and a half day inspection from the Joint Commission ensuring patients are receiving quality care. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

19th MDG Airmen conduct a meeting around a table.

Airmen from the 19th Medical Group conduct a meeting at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Sept. 19, 2019. The 19th MDG recently received five best practices from the Joint Commission inspection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Irvin)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The 19th Medical Group at Little Rock Air Force Base recently underwent a two and a half day inspection from The Joint Commission.

The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates over 20,000 health care organizations and programs across the United States.

“They have a very long list of items that they look at that’s designed toward improving the quality of care across the country as a whole, ensuring that a particular facility is adhering to the best standards of quality,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Micah Schmidt, 19th MDG chief of medical staff.

Per Air Force instruction, LRAFB must get an inspection every three years, which evaluates over 800 elements ensuring every aspect of the 19th MDG are providing patients with quality care.

The inspection process begins as soon as the patient walks in the door and continues through every appointment and pharmacy visit, including follow-up appointments.

“The inspection went very well,” Schmidt said. “It was encouraging receiving feedback on our team stating ‘it is highly impressive that you have junior Airmen who understand the process so well, that they be an instructor to others in the medical field’.”

The 19th MDG received five best practices during the inspection. A best practice means that not only was the standard for the specific element met, but it was exceeded. The most highlighted new practice, which will become graded in early 2020, was the antimicrobial stewardship.

“The Joint Commission suggested that we publish the new stewardship on their website, which is a big deal — a great honor,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Luvenia Manning, 19th MDG chief nurse executive.

The goal of the new stewardship is to ensure patients are receiving the exact amount of antibiotics needed to prevent overexposure to antibiotics by improving overall health of the patient.

“We have a stated Air Force and Defense Health Agency standard that we call antibiotic stewardship,” Schmidt said. “What we're trying to create is a patient safety goal; if you were exposed to antibiotics when you don't need to be, that can have health repercussions both for you and for everybody around you.”

While keeping up with a rapidly evolving industry such as the medical field, the 19th MDG worked alongside U.S. Air Force Maj. Peter Easter, Defense Health Agency director of clinical registries, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to design a tracking process.

“We’ve established a database driven tool to look at every antibiotic prescription, and target our physician peer review process for when you come and see a doctor for a certain number of those charts, a second doctor is going to read that chart and provide feedback,” Schmidt said.

According to Schmidt, the 19th MDG performed in the top 10 percent on standardized measures for antibiotic prescribing in 2018. This program has further reduced unnecessary antibiotic usage, that may harm patients, by an additional 90 percent in the persistent pursuit of the best possible medical care.

“For me this is a proud moment,” Manning said. “This validates the processes that we have in place and confirms what we're doing in practice every day to take care of our patients is working.”

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