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How changing patients' socks could save lives

The Washington Post, October 11, 2012

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts, health reform means testing out new payment models and delivery systems. It also means changing the socks that patients wear. About six years ago, the health care system set a goal: It would aim to end preventable harm in its hospitals by 2012. It has just now released the results of that effort, which included "hundreds" of small changes–such as having patients wear socks with treads that could prevent falls. While the hospital has not eliminated preventable harm, it has seen such incidents cut in half–and might have a few lessons for hospitals elsewhere in the country. "There are a hundred things were doing differently. It’s really not so much about each individual project," says Beth Israel CEO Michael Tabb. "It's about a wholesale change in culture. And we think constantly about how do we improve our quality of care and how do we reduce any kind of harm to our patients."