13 Truths Our People

We're closer
to zero

Malachi Bynum

We're closer
to zero

Share Share Share

Here's a truth most hospitals are uncomfortable to talk about: it is inherently risky to seek medical care.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that two million patients suffer hospital-acquired conditions each year; the Institute of Medicine estimates that 100,000 people die each year in American hospitals from medical errors.

In theory, hospitals can prevent all this harm, which often stems from human error. But while no caregiver goes to work intending to harm a patient, they are human and flawed, and maybe we must accept this truth: mistakes will happen.

Children's Colorado knows its caregivers are human, but it refuses to accept preventable harm as inevitable. Nor does it allow rates and percentages to paint a more comfortable picture – no matter what portion of the population actually experiences harm, one child harmed will always be one too many.

Enter Target Zero, Children's Colorado's multi-year campaign aiming for zero preventable harm events, which launched in 2013.

The Target Zero logo and its messages appeared everywhere – on computers, in meetings, at events – pronouncing that safety is the hospital's top priority. The hospital also trained 3,000-plus staff on safety practices and tools, rolled an educational "Safety Buggy" onto the floors, and installed new programs in the electronic medical record. Teams implemented processes that either address risks or catch harm before it happens.

Most importantly, day-by-day, staff were increasingly on high alert for potential risks, and their response to those risks led to fewer events on the front line.

Due to all of these efforts, Children's Colorado had at least 40 fewer patient harm occurrences in 2013 compared to 2012.

ZERO MAY NOT BE IMPOSSIBLE.
Learn about our patient safety efforts

Malachi Bynum

What are you doing to eliminate preventable harm?