ARTICLE: Bringing Science to Patient Safety
Wed, 15 Oct 2014
“Over the last decade at Johns Hopkins, we have learned that quick fixes won’t improve patient safety. Just like in every other area of medicine, science must guide the way.
“But we’re not there yet. We must train physicians, nurses, medical students and administrators in this evolving area of the science of safety. We need them to lead these efforts. We must better understand how to identify and learn from mistakes. We need to implement programs that are proven to reduce harm. And we must know how to design, implement and evaluate interventions that will improve safety.”
Peter Pronovost is a professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine and Surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the School of Nursing. He also serves at Johns Hopkins Medicine as Senior Vice President for Patient Safety and Quality and as the Director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Dr. Pronovost has spent most of his career as a champion of innovative but practical solutions to fix flaws in health care systems that can lead to deadly mistakes and complications in hospitals. He possesses what the Wall Street Journal calls a “steely determination” to challenge the status quo in medicine. He hasn’t shied away from criticizing his peers for resisting efforts to improve safety and quality, one theme of his 2009 book, Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out. Today, he travels the country, advising hospitals on innovative safety measures.
Dr. Pronovost has developed a scientifically proven method for reducing the deadly infections associated with central line catheters. His simple but effective protocol involving the use of a checklist has virtually eliminated these infections across the state of Michigan, saving 1,500 lives and $100 million annually—results have been sustained for more than three years. His simple checklist protocol is now being implemented across the United States and in several other countries. The New Yorker magazine says that Dr. Pronovost’s “work has already saved more lives than that of any laboratory scientist in the past decade.”
Other career highlights:
- Has written more than 400 articles and chapters related to patient safety and the measurement and evaluation of safety efforts;
- Received a MacArthur Fellowship (2008), known popularly as the “genius grant”;
- Named by Time magazine as one of the world’s top 100 “most influential people” for his work in patient safety;
- Named to Modern Health care’s 2014 list of 100 Most Influential People in Health care;
- Regularly addresses Congress on the importance of patient safety, prompting a report by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that strongly endorses Dr. Pronovost’s program for preventing infections in intensive care units;
- Serves in an advisory capacity to the World Health Organization’s World Alliance for Patient Safety.
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