How To Make Hospitals Safer: Better Organizing


Professor Amir A. Ghaferi, in Harvard Business Review, outlines the next big innovation in patient safety.

Technical advancements and standardized practices have reduced patient deaths from preventable medical errors over the years. But errors are still responsible for between 3-percent and 5-percent of hospital deaths.

Dr. Amir A. Ghaferi, a surgeon and U-M Medical School professor with a courtesy Michigan Ross appointment, says the next wave of innovation in patient safety is organization. For hospitals, that means how they organize individuals and their day-to-day work in a way that optimizes highly reliable performance.

Writing in Harvard Business Review with Johns Hopkins Professors Christopher Myers, PhD ’15, Kathleen Sutcliffe, and Peter Pronovost, Ghaferi shows how this way of organizing leads to better outcomes for patients and doesn’t require new, expensive technology.

The authors also explain how standardizing practices could be taken too far, and how good organizations allow for variations across patients and medical cases while still keeping errors to a minimum.

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