I could not let the op-ed by Richard Salluzzo, M.D., pass without comment. It was refreshing to see a senior administrative leader observe that quality improvement is not the narrow responsibility of a few.
The concept of quality police has never worked and, in fact, quality leaders work best as mentors, teachers, cheerleaders and guides. The primitive public quality measures we are currently using to indicate a top-notch facility really only give us the freedom to dig deeper.
It should be no surprise that as we dissect what we do in hospitals and improve processes, we inevitably move toward improved efficiency and patient safety. Perhaps Salluzzos most important comment was his description of Wellmont Health Systems $35 million swing from a deficit to profitability because of improvements in efficiency and safety.
This traditional measurement in context became one of the most sensitive indicators of a quality success. This first step toward being the safest hospital in America is to realize that it is an energy-consuming process involving the whole employed and voluntary staff. To think that financial success rests only with a cost-cutting, restrictive chief financial officer is the doorway to disaster. Supporting staff members in becoming mini-process improvement teams makes everyone a CFO and a chief medical officer aligned toward a common goalefficiency and patient safety.
W. Edwards Deming knew this fact more than 50 years ago. We will watch Salluzzos bold leadership with appreciation.
Craigan Gray, M.D.Vice president of medical affairsOur Lady of Bellefonte HospitalAshland, Ky.