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Vicky Peck, RN, and Erica Traxel, MD, Receive Barnes-Jewish Hospital Team Award for Quality Improvement

Vicky Peck, RN, and Erica Traxel, MD with Caption: Vicky Peck, RN, and Erica Traxel, MD, Receive Barnes-Jewish Hospital Team Award for Quality Improvement

Vicky Peck, RN, Patient Safety and Quality Coordinator, and Erica Traxel, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Urologic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, were honored with the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Team Award for Quality Improvement. In addition, Peck presented the project as one of the local speakers at the 12th Annual BJC Patient Safety & Quality Symposium

The virtual event, presented by Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the School of Medicine, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, BJC HealthCare, and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Center for Patient Excellence, invites health care professionals from around the world to celebrate and discuss topics related to safety and quality in medicine.  

Peck presented their project, iTRUST: Identifying and Tracking Retained Ureteral Stents, during the symposium. A long-term collaboration with Erica Traxel, MD, the project first began in 2016 with a simple mission: Track every patient who gets a stent implanted by a urologist or transplant surgeon in an online system.  

“By tracking stents, our team could know whether the patient returned at some point in time and had their stents removed or exchanged,” Peck says.” 

At the time, Barnes-Jewish Hospital was laying the groundwork to implement its new electronic medical record, Epic.  

“Epic contained a tool that gave our team the ability to track stent placements, and we saw this as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of Epic’s implementation,” Peck says. “In hindsight, this timing was so important because habits using electronic medical records are established quickly.”  

Peck and Traxel’s team, with assistance from an Epic One analyst, worked to develop and integrate a workflow to document stent placements and removals and establish reporting and follow-up protocols. The workflow went live with the launch of Epic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in 2018. In 2020, the iTRUST project was expanded to encompass all the BJC HealthCare facilities where Washington University urologic surgeons perform stent placements. 

“It has been amazing to see the culture of safety evolve over time, and the Division of Urologic Surgery has always been at the forefront of that evolution,” Peck says. “The leadership of former Chief Dr. Andriole, Dr. Traxel and our new Chief Dr. Bhayani has been instrumental in getting our patient safety program established in the Division and throughout the rest of the Department of Surgery.” 

Former Division Chief Gerald Andriole, Jr., MD, served as Peck’s mentor for over 20 years and championed her work in patient safety and quality improvement (PSQI). Before he left the institution, Andriole spoke with Traxel and encouraged the team to submit their work for the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Team Award for Quality Improvement.  

“It is incredibly inspiring to work alongside surgeons because they have a tremendous ability to think about things beyond what’s in front of them,” Peck says. “They appreciate the bigger picture, and I am touched by their support.”  

A registered nurse, Peck has spent most of her career at Washington University School of Medicine. In 1997, she began working as a research nurse in the Division of Urologic Surgery and transitioned into the role of Director of Clinical Operations for the Division. While serving in this role, she was asked by Mary Z. Taylor, the first Patient Safety Director for Washington University School of Medicine, if she could be part of a pilot group that would begin utilizing a new event reporting system to track patient safety events. This exposure to a different side of the health care landscape ignited Peck’s passion for patient safety and quality improvement, and she has been working in the area ever since. 

“I see patient safety events as any opportunity to do something better,” Peck says. “It does not always have to be something that caused harm to a patient, but we want to ensure that event doesn’t happen again in the future.”   

“The culture of medicine has evolved in the last couple of decades to no longer shame and blame individuals when adverse events and near misses happen. Instead, we now intentionally look at events in great detail through a lens that asks how we as a health care system can do better to prevent future similar events,” says Traxel. “Vicky Peck is a true champion for patient safety, and she has helped to transform our division’s approach to PSQI.” 

“Patients expect us to do our very best, and as health care providers, we have a reputation that we’re doing high-quality work,” Peck says. “It’s our responsibility to live up to that reputation and exceed their expectations.”