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Henry Ford Health System's Bold Goal to Cut Harm in Half

Jim Molpus, for HealthLeaders Media, April 23, 2012

The goal itself has a motivational power, but so too does the definition of harm to patients, which the Henry Ford campaign expanded. Harm itself was defined as:

"Any unintended physical injury resulting from or contributed to by medical care (including the absence of indicated medical treatment) that requires additional monitoring, treatment, or hospitalization, or that results in death. Such injury is considered harm whether or not it is considered preventable, resulted from a medical error, or occurred within a hospital."

Having such a broad definition of harm was an intentional choice. It ensured that quibbling over the definition of "preventable" was not going to be a barrier, says James Kalus, PharmD, senior clinical pharmacy manager and a member of the No Harm steering committee.

"From a clinical standpoint, you can always argue that something is not preventable," Kalus says. "From a pragmatic standpoint, if you say that you're only going to target preventable harm or you say that there's a difference between preventable and non-preventable, then you're also setting yourself up that zero is never the goal. If you say everything is preventable, then theoretically you can target a lower number."

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