Safety Institute Established to Reduce Preventable Medical Errors

Earlier this year, Johns Hopkins announced the establishment of a dedicated patient safety Institute thanks to a generous gift by Michael C. Armstrong, chairman of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees. Indiana medical malpractice attorneys are also pleased to note that renowned patient safety expert and checklist guru Peter Pronovost has been named director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins.

The need for a patient safety institute like this is dire. More than ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine published its groundbreaking To Err Is Human report, which indicated that as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals every year from medical errors. In the years since the publication of the report, little progress has been made in reducing the occurrence of medical errors, and preventing the number of people who die in hospitals every year from these errors. Approximately 100,000 deaths occur from hospital-acquired infections, while more than 800,000 die as a result of diagnostic errors. Thousands more die due to errors in communication and teamwork failures. These deaths are almost always preventable.

The Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality is funded by a $10 million grant by Armstrong, and is believed to be the first patient safety institute of its kind in the country, dedicated solely to researching and assessing infection and error prevention strategies. The Institute will oversee all patient safety efforts across Johns Hopkins Medicine. The main focus will be on research into ways that can eliminate preventable errors in hospitals, reducing the wide gaps in access to health care and promoting clinical excellence.

Researchers at the Institute will study patient safety in all forms. While the base of the research is likely to be Johns Hopkins, the results of any studies will be utilized for the benefit of all patients in hospitals across the country and the globe.

Indiana medical malpractice attorneys can think of few people more suited to the mantle of director at the institute than Dr. Peter Pronovost. Dr. Pronovost is widely renowned for his work in reducing medical errors, mainly through the development of a simple checklist to prevent such errors. The five-step checklist is a simple way to eliminate the kind of random errors that can occur in a healthcare setting, and has proved to be very effective in reducing serious hospital-acquired infections, like central line-associated bloodstream infections. Hospitals that use the checklist to eliminate infections have, in some cases, reported 100% success rates.

Indiana medical malpractice lawyers expect much of the progress in patient safety initiatives over the next decade to come from the Armstrong Institute.