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Berwick Group Announces 100,000 Lives Campaign Has Prevented Over 120,000 Medical Deaths PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Donald berwick, MD, IHI president and CEO
Berwick Group Announces 100,000 Lives Campaign Has Prevented Over 120,000 Medical Deaths

The Institute for Health Improvement (IHI) has announced that its 100,000 Lives Campaign (see related IBN&R story on Medical Deaths) has more than hit its target in preventing unnecessary hospital deaths. In a June 14, 2006 release the organization announced that it has more than met its target of saving 100,000 preventable hospital deaths. The release states:
"Hospitals enrolled in the 100,000 Lives Campaign have prevented an estimated 122,300 avoidable deaths and, more importantly, have begun to institutionalize new standards of care that will continue to save lives and improve outcomes in the future."
The IHI also announced that its enrollment of hospitals in the campaign hit 3000, 50% higher than the target of 2000. These represent 75% of the US hospital beds. Berwick Imageis quoted as stating that in thecampaign, hospitals "have proved that it's possible for the health care community to come together voluntarily to rapidly make significant changes in  patient care."
The campaign, referenced in an earlier IBN&R feature on medical deaths, focused on getting hospitals to adopt clinical practices which were known to save lives. The specific foci, purpose, and number of hospitals which participated in that initiative, are noted in the table.

 Focus Area
Description  Number of
Activate a Rapid
Response Team
When there are first signs
that a patient is worsening.

Prevent Patients
from Dying of
Heart Attacks
Through an evidence-based
care use of aspirin and beta

Through accurate and updated
lists of medications given a
patient during their stay.

Infections from
Central Lines
Including proper hand-washing
and cleaning the patient's skin
with chlorhexidine (and antiseptic)

Infections in
Via specified timely steps,
including administraiton of


Pneumonia in
Patients on

 Following 4 steps, including raising
the head of a patient's bed up 30
to 45 degrees.

The IHI campaign has received the support of over 90 organizations, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Over 100 hospitals have been selected as "mentor hospitals."

The campaign began 18 months ago with a goal of saving 100,000 lives by June 14, 2006. In December of 2006, IHI will announce the next phase of teh campaign. Meantime, hospitals are being urged to fully implement all of the guidelines in phase one.

Milt Hammerly, MD, responding to the IHI news
IBN&R contacted Milt Hammerly, MD, vice president for medical operations and integrative medicine with the 19 state Catholic Health Initiatives  system. Hammerly, a long-time leader in integrative medicine, was the subject of a lengthy interview which stimulated the earlier IBN&R feature on medical deaths.
Hammerly is part of the CHI team focusing on safety issues, through which he and CHI participated in the IHI initiative. Hammerly responded, via e-mail:
"My basic message
is that saving over
120,000 lives is
great news but
I think that there's
a potential to do
far better by
applying the same
diligence to health

- Milt Hammerly, MD
Catholic Health

"It is thrilling that the IHI 100K campaign has had such a great impact. However, rather than becoming smug about the success of this campaign and patting ourselves on the backs, this should only whet our appetites for approaches that will have a far greater impact.

"We are doing a better job of doing things right (reducing errors) but we still fall far short on doing the right things. At the December 2005 IHI meeting, there was a track of sessions devoted to patient/person-centered care. As we move to person-centerd care (nudged along by the IHI, Institute of Medicine, American Hospital Association, and of course, consumers) we will do more of the right things.

"Just as the absence of disease is not health, the absence of medical errors and iatrogenic harm is not health. The absence of wrong/bad things is not the presence of right/good things. Ultimately, the number of lives saved and fulfilled (reaching their maximum potential) by doing the right things (engaged and empowered to promote health and prevent disease in the first place) will dwarf the number of lives saved by doing the wrong things correctly (in an evidence-based, continuous quality improvement process).

"My basic message is that saving over 120,000 lives is great news but I think that there's a potential to do far better by applying the same diligence to health promotion."
I join Hammerly in his kudos, to Berwick, and to all of the hospitals that joined in the effort. Notably, as Berwick pointed out in the release, many of these hospitals showed an unusual level of collaboration in pursuing the campaign's goals.

Here is hoping that Berwick's organization will work to bring all of these hospitals into the patient/person-centered care track Hammerly participated in the December 2005 IHI meeting. My guess, however, is that there are probably at least a half dozen other more prosaic guidelines which are yet to be followed and will be a first target for further reducing unnecessary deaths in hospitals.

Then again, wouldn't it be wonderful if we learned in six month that one of the new initiatives was to have doctors treat nurses better. My guess is that this is a place where a trickle down theory - from doctor to nurses to patients - will actually show dividends.

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