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HL20: Bob Malizzo—Learning From a Nightmare

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2012

"We meet once a month, an hour to 90 minutes. We talk about hospital errors not only at UIC but also errors at other hospitals or harm that was done to people at other hospitals," Malizzo says. "We check our policies and procedures at UIC and if we see they are deficient, we make the changes to prevent some kind of error from occurring. So we review not only potential errors that happen at UIC but errors at other hospitals as well."

Since Michelle's death, for example, Malizzo says anesthesiologists' professional associations have called for the use of capnograms for sedated and moderately sedated patients to monitor carbon dioxide levels. "If the patient should stop breathing an alarm will go off," Malizzo says. "So what that does is give us some satisfaction that obviously my daughter's death didn't go in vain and that some positives are coming out of this so that other people maybe don't have to experience what we have experienced."

The family has also accepted what Malizzo called a "very generous" out-of-court settlement from the hospital that provides for Michelle's husband and two young children, who were ages 1 and 7 at the time of her death. 

Malizzo says most hospitals are stuck in the mindset of denying their errors often on the advice of their attorneys. He believes that more hospitals would take a more conciliatory tone if they understood that many injured patients and their families want answers and accountability.

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