Coming home

Posted by  | Preventing Patient Harm

Last week, my family returned from a vacation in Jamaica. The kids had spring break and it was great to get away with them. Upon returning to the U.S. and after clearing passport control, the customs agent said “welcome home.” No doubt they are trained to say this; I hear it every time I travel(...)

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Dreaming the dream

Posted by  | Preventing Patient Harm

The video of Susan Boyle’s debut on Britain’s Got Talent is well worth watching. She walked on stage, wearing a frumpy dress, overweight and awkward. Members of the audience snickered and rolled their eyes as this 47-year-old told the judges that she wanted to be a singing star. I suspect she had her own doubts. Yet(...)

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Personalized medicine and patient safety: two sides of the same coin

Posted by  | Preventing Patient Harm

Personalized medicine is getting a lot of attention, and rightly so. We all have our own DNA, health habits, socioeconomic background and values. Shouldn't the care we get be personalized for us? Basic scientists have provided profound insights about the incredible complexity of disease—for instance, about how breast cancer is not a single disease but(...)

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Why can’t the ICU be more like a cockpit?

Posted by  | Designing Safer Systems, Preventing Patient Harm

In the world of patient safety, we’re constantly reinforcing the importance of teamwork and communication, both among clinicians and with patients. That’s because we know that patient harm so often occurs when vital information about a patient’s care is omitted, miscommunicated or ignored. Yet for all we do to improve how humans work together, clinicians(...)

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To gauge hospital quality, patients deserve more outcome measures

Posted by  | Measurement of Safety and Quality, Preventing Patient Harm

Patients, providers and the public have much to celebrate. This week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare website added central line-associated bloodstream infections in intensive care units to its list of publicly reported quality of care measures for individual hospitals. Why is this so important? There is universal support for the idea that(...)

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Memorable patients, unforgettable lessons

Posted by  | Patient-Centered Care, Preventing Patient Harm

Every clinician has encountered patients whose memories stay with them for years. The patients who stick usually are not the ones for whom the clinician made a brilliant diagnosis or provided evidence-based therapies. They are the patients who touched clinicians' hearts, the ones they formed a relationship with, the ones in whom  they saw themselves or a loved one—ultimately, the(...)

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A safety checklist for patients

Posted by  | Preventing Patient Harm

Far too many patients are harmed rather than helped from their interactions with the health care system. While reducing this harm has proven to be devilishly difficult, we have found that checklists help. Checklists help to reduce ambiguity about what to do, to prioritize what is most important, and to clarify the behaviors that are(...)

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Health care needs greater accountability, not excuses

Posted by  | Measurement of Safety and Quality, Organizational and Cultural Change

I recently spoke to an executive in the energy industry who had a joint replacement at a hospital in New York. His wound developed an infection, which required four additional hospital admissions and several operations. He asked me about hand hygiene in hospitals. Proudly, I told him that, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, we are at 80(...)

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Patient-centered care means treating the individual

Posted by  | Patient-Centered Care, Preventing Patient Harm

I hope you’ll take the time to check out our podcast project, The Heart of Caring, which highlights stories that deepen our understanding of patient- and family-centered care. A recently added story comes from physician Dan Munoz, who recalls a decision about whether to place a 99-year-old patient on a ventilator. It’s often considered humane to withhold(...)

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