HM Leaders Weigh In
Question 1: What was hospital medicine’s contribution and role in the patient-safety movement that ensued following the IOM report?
“I believe that hospitalists have been integral to improving patient safety and reducing medical errors in those hospitals. Patients are safer and better off if there is a physician in the house ready to respond should patients have a change in health status. Hospitalists see the hospital as their office, if you will, and they focus not only on treating the patient in the bed, but treating the hospital itself by becoming engaged with quality improvement and patient-safety initiatives that improve the system of care.”—Mark Williams, MD, FHM, chief, division of hospital medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; SHM past president; editor of the Journal of Hospital Medicine
“The role hospital medicine has filled has been as a major supplier of physicians to quality-improvement teams and other hospital teams at the front lines, prior to which physicians were conspicuously absent. If you look, for example, at nurses and other healthcare professionals, they came to the party much earlier than we did. Physicians have only recently on a broad scale become involved on these teams, and I think the major contributors have been hospitalists.”—Winthrop Whitcomb, MD, FHM, director of performance improvement, Mercy Medical Center, Springfield, Mass.; SHM co-founder
“There was a tremendous kind of synergy where hospital medicine was defining itself by its focus on systems of care, safety culture, error reporting, collaboration, interdisciplinary teams and so forth. The IOM report did a beautiful job of taking the knowledge and literature, not just from within medicine but more importantly from outside, and showing how a lot of those concepts that had been implemented successfully elsewhere were lacking in medicine in general. That really just teed it up for hospital medicine to take the impetus and framework IOM supplied and use it as a rubric for what hospital medicine could do for its part of the health system.”—Russ Cucina, MD, assistant professor of medicine and associate medical director for information technology, University of California at San Francisco
Question 2: What is the most important unfinished business for hospitalists regarding the patient-safety movement?
“I think we have made tremendous strides but there is much more to do. Although we have pockets of success, what we need to do is make those successes more uniform, so they happen in every hospital, not just some hospitals that have the right hospitalist leader or the right skill set or the right culture. We want to create the right culture and skill set and team in every hospital, and one of our challenges at SHM is to work on a mentoring program for hospitalists. That means using those who have been successful to mentor other sites and bring them on board to reproduce and replicate the good work.”—Janet Nagamine, MD, FHM, hospitalist, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Santa Clara, Calif.; SHM Hospital Quality/Patient Safety Committee chairwoman