Jessica Serdy Wins Safety Award

Jessica Serdy, RN, cornerstone of the Department of Neurology's infusion center's safety program for people with MS and related disorders, has been announced as a winner of the UPMC's 2021 Richard L. Simmons, MD, Speak Up for Safety Award. This competitive award honors the dedication of Dr. Richard Simmons to improve the quality of health care and patient safety. Dr. Simmons is a leader in advancing methods for measuring and reporting health care quality and expanding the public's capacity to evaluate the quality and safety of health care. This award honors those who embody Dr. Simmons’ passion for patient safety in caring for patients.

Jessica was nominated by Margie O'Leary, who stated, “It is so important to recognize those who work hard in our health care system and advance patient safety in their daily work responsibilities.  Jessica Serdy RN has that type of commitment to patient safety. She has been employed within our Multiple Sclerosis Care Center taking care of patients within our infusion center for the last 2 years. Jess is an extremely thorough nurse who accepts all responsibilities especially relating to patient safety and performs them in a thorough and comprehensive manner each day.  Jessica’s efforts remind us what a difference one person can make in keeping patients safe.
"Many of our medications have a REMS program attached.  One such medication, Natulizumab (Tysabri) is used in over 200 of our patients as frequently as monthly.  Ms. Serdy compiles and enters all required data into the REMS program for each patient infused with Tysabri. Its frequent use is due to the fact that it is a very effective medication that can limit progression of Multiple Sclerosis.  Unfortunately, it carries a significant risk of brain infection in those who are infused with it.  This brain infection known as Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) can result in death. For those who do survive, it has a devastating effect on the body with irreversible symptoms such a speech and cognitive impairment, seizures and severe muscle weakness.  We have had patients die or have severe permanent neurological deficits after developing PML. It is very difficult for health care professional to treat as well as observe.  Its impact on quality of life is tremendous and those who have survived become totally dependent upon caregivers.
"Because of the risk and severity of this infection, the FDA and the pharmaceutical company’s REMS program requires extensive patient monitoring and data entry is required each month.  Jess manages all data requirements of patients on this therapy. We were informed in this past year that our center has the highest score that we have ever attained (98%), and we also share this score with other centers as the highest score obtained nationwide.  This score was obtained through the constant work by Jess making sure all patients complied with the testing requirements as indicated per patient based on their condition.
"Jess has excited and inspired other colleagues to focus on the monitoring requirements. Jess has also had this tremendous success in her work though patient education. Patient education can be very extremely challenging with our patients as some of our patient are cognitively impaired and memory is impacted. Before Jess managed patient safety, this task was left to providers who could be swayed by patients to limit their monitoring activities.  Jess has worked closely in identifying at risk patients and works closely with the physicians to change treatments to limit risk in patients. It is very challenging for a nurse to face a physician and argue about the need for patient safety and that a therapy should be altered. Jess can do this with compassion for the patient and with ease with our physicians as they recognize the efforts that she places on safety.  Since Jessica has assumed this role, we have not had a new incidence of PML in our patients.
"Jessica Serdy’s persistence in managing patient safety activities has resulted in great trust of her suggestions by providers. Patients and staff look to her for guidance in patient monitoring needs. For this reason, we nominate Jessica Serdy for the SPEAK UP FOR SAFETY PATIENT AWARD.”

Jessica will be honored during the 2021 Dr. Loren Roth Quality and Patient Safety Awards Celebration that will be held virtually on March 30, from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.