We're a rather dangerous industry," Donald Berwick, president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, told physicians while accepting the Presidential Citation award from the American Medical Association last week for his patient-safety and quality-improvement efforts. "Smart industries build dikes around human frailty."
The institute's 100K Lives campaign is meant to do just that, taking on six key causes of patient morbidity and mortality, such as central-line infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia.
While the 18-month campaign focuses on hospital interventions shown to prevent patient deaths from adverse events, organizers hope it will yield a "reusable national infrastructure" for healthcare improvement-a network of change-minded individuals, Berwick said. That could lay the foundation for a campaign targeted at safer care in outpatient settings, he said.
Anesthesiologist Carol Rose, of Pittsburgh, said physicians might be more supportive of patient-safety efforts if the language used were less antagonistic. For example, errors are often said to "kill" patients. Berwick said audience members should use whatever language works best in motivating local efforts.
On the hospital level, the 6-month old campaign is beginning to pay off, Berwick said, citing Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto in Southaven, Miss., where the rate of ventilator-associated pneumonia has dropped 46% in the past year.
Berwick said early support from AMA President John Nelson had been "catalytic" to the campaign's success.