The secret to fighting infections



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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