A Publication of WTVP

Saving the lives of the 100,000 patients who will be hospitalized in the next 18 months probably sounds like "business as usual." After all, that's why people go to hospitals, isn't it? And that's exactly what happens in almost all of the 36 million hospital admissions each year. However, there may be as many as 200,000 patients who die annually in our hospitals in the U.S. who really needn't.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has developed a campaign aimed at "Saving 100,000 Lives." IHI and other organizations that share its mission are convinced that a remarkably few proven interventions, implemented on a wide enough scale, can avoid 100,000 deaths over the next 18 months-and every year thereafter.

The campaign aims to enlist thousands of hospitals across the country in a commitment to implement changes in care that have been proven to prevent avoidable deaths, starting with these six changes: Rapid Response Teams, improved care for acute myocardial infarction, prevention of adverse drug events, prevention of central line-associated bloodstream infection, prevention of surgical site infection, and prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia.

All of the six hospitals constituting OSF Healthcare System are committed to participating to the fullest extent possible in IHI's 18-month campaign. For instance, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center already has initiatives started on each of the six changes, and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington is cited in IHI's "Success Stories" for significantly reducing surgical site infections.

Much of the credit is due to the leadership, expertise, and enthusiasm of Dr. John Whittington, OSF Healthcare System Coordinator of Clinical Informatics and Patient Safety Officer. John serves as a fellow on the faculty of IHI, currently directing the collaborative for reducing hospital mortality. Not only have patients at the OSF facilities benefited from his efforts, but many other patients throughout the U.S. and beyond are and will be implementing the protocols developed by Dr. Whittington's IHI teams.

Of the 36 million patients hospitalized each year, about 1.7 million reside in Illinois, so our proportional state-wide goal ought to be to save 4,722 lives. So who will be saved? In his invitation to hospitals to consider participating, Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Institute for Healthcare Improvement president and CEO, shared this: "The names of the patients whose lives we save can never be known. Our contribution will be what did not happen to them. And, though they are unknown, we will know that mothers and fathers are at graduations and weddings they would have missed, and that grandchildren will know grandparents they might never have known."

There should be a degree of urgency here. As Dr. Berwick puts it, "Soon is not a time; some is not a number. Establishing specific targets-100,000 lives in 18 months-helps to put a human face on the effort." IBI