Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Addressing Patient Safety & Quality

Johns Hopkins Medicine has established the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality with a $10 million gift from C. Michael Armstrong, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins Medicine and retired Chairman of Comcast, AT&T, Hughes Electronics, and IBM World Trade Corporation.

The Armstrong Institute will oversee all of the current patient safety and quality efforts throughout JHU medicine. It is designed to rigorously apply scientific principles to the study of safety for the benefit of all patients, not just those at Hopkins.

The focus will be on eliminating preventable harm for patients, eliminating health disparities, ensuring clinical excellence, and creating a culture that values collaboration, accountability, and organizational learning. Hopkins will serve as a learning laboratory to test the best that the researchers have to offer in the fields of patient safety and quality improvement.

Patient safety expert Peter J. Pronovost, M.D. PhD, a Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care medicine at the JHU School of Medicine has been named the Director for the Armstrong Institute. Pronovost is internationally known for his work using a simple five step checklist coupled with a program of culture change to dramatically reduce the number of central-line associated bloodstream infections in ICUs and virtually eliminating them at the JHU Hospital and throughout Michigan.

Pronovost’s program now in place in nearly every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and in many nations around the world, is believed to have saved thousands of lives and millions of healthcare dollars. Pronovost says he wants to build on the success of his checklist and bring the same focus to other areas of medicine where preventable harm continues unabated.

Pronovost currently heads Johns Hopkins Quality and Safety Research Group and is the Medical Director for the Hopkins Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care. Both groups as well as other partners throughout the university and health system will be folded into the new Armstrong Institute.

Pronovost expects to bring a multidisciplinary approach to the new Armstrong Institute because as he says, “There are different types of safety problems that require different theories and different methods to solve. More importantly, we need to listen to and partner with clinicians.” He plans to tap the expertise of psychologists to assist in improving teamwork, sociologists to help with organizational culture and human factors, and bring in systems engineers to improve the interaction between staff members and new hospital technologies.”