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HL20: Bob Malizzo—Learning From a Nightmare

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Bob Malizzo.

This profile was published in the December, 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

 "We don't want this tragedy to go in vain. Something has to happen to prevent this from happening again."

Bob Malizzo expected that executives at University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago would blame anyone but themselves for the death of his daughter Michelle during what was supposed to be routine bile duct surgery at the hospital.

Malizzo, a Hobart, Ind., businessman and a former mayor of the city, and his wife, Barbara, were angry, confused, saddened, and looking for answers when they met with Tim McDonald, MD, UIC Medical Center's chief safety and risk officer to find out what had gone so horribly wrong during the April 2008 surgery.

Instead of excuses McDonald accepted the blame and offered an apology.

"Going in, obviously we were very skeptical that we were going to get the truth, but then when we sat down and they shared the truth with us it kind of defused the anger," Malizzo says.

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