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Seattle Children’s Hospital identifies racial disparities in infections, security response

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As part of their recently released Health Equity and Anti-Racism Action Plan, Seattle Children’s Hospital has identified racial and ethnic disparities that exist in their practices including infections in specific IV techniques as well as in a protocol used to call security on patients.

The action plan comes after public backlash surrounding how the organization’s administration and board of trustees kept hidden the results of an independent audit of the organization’s workplace culture of racial and ethnic equity issues.

The document identifies goals such as increasing “employee diversity by race/ethnicity to 40% to further reflect patient population,” and measures to improve equity, diversity and inclusion training among multiple levels of staff.

It also addresses a plan to dismantle the “Code Purple” system, which was used to call security on patients.

“We have recognized disparities and revised our policy and processes in January 2021,” said Seattle Children’s spokesperson Jennifer Morgan. “We have chosen to completely redesign our processes, utilizing a design process that will include patients and families.”

Morgan said it is not possible to speculate on what the team will design. She said their goal will be to embed psychosocial/de-escalation expertise within the clinical areas that can partner with patients, families and staff in a more proactive manner.

The plan also identified goals to reduce disparities in central-line bloodstream infections associated with specific kinds of IV’s in “patients who use a language other than English and Black/African American patients.”

“We have disparities in our central line associated bloodstream infection rates. Over the past year, we have been measuring how we care for lines by race, ethnicity, and language,” said Morgan. “To date, there are no differences in how we are caring for lines. We are working to identify additional strategies to implement that will eliminate these disparities, focusing on our Black and African American patients.”

Seattle Children’s did not respond to multiple requests over several weeks for the data used to identify these disparities that also would have identified the extent to which they exist, despite their stated goal to “redesign reporting on anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion efforts and commit to quarterly reports.”

“Creating a plan does not make an organization anti-racist. We acknowledge that Seattle Children’s is not an anti-racist organization now, but we commit to our workforce, patients and families and community that it will be,” said Seattle Children’s CEO Jeff Sperring in the action plan’s foreword.

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Cameron Sheppard

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Cameron Sheppard

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