The secret to fighting infections

The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2011
As medical director for Johns Hopkins University's Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care, Peter Pronovost, MD, has spent most of his career as a champion of innovative but practical solutions to fix system flaws that can lead to deadly mistakes and complications in hospitals. That mission took on new urgency in 2001, after 18-month-old Josie King died at Johns Hopkins following missteps in her care. Pronovost's current crusade is preventing deadly bloodstream infections linked to central lines or catheters used in intensive-care units. A pilot project in Michigan showed that participating hospitals reduced rates of infections and death by using a checklist of evidence-based steps to reduce the infections, and by fostering a culture of safety and teamwork. Pronovost's boyish appearance and enthusiastic manner belie a steely determination to challenge the status quo in medicine. He hasn't shied away from criticizing his peers for resisting safety and quality improvement efforts, a theme of his 2009 book "Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals."

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