In the Canadian Adverse Events Study published in the CMAJ 2004, 7.5% of hospital admissions result in adverse events (unintended injury) and 37% of these were judged to be highly preventable. The study estimated that between 9,250 to 23,750 deaths each year were preventable.
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), recognizing that patient harm is largely due to poor systems not bad people, ran the 100,000 Lives campaign for the 18 months from December 2004 to June 2006. With the goal of preventing 100,000 needless patient deaths in hospital, the campaign focused on 6 evidence-based interventions.
These 6 interventions were: (1) rapid response teams to respond to acutely deteriorating patients, (2) the prevention of adverse drug events, (3) reliable acute myocardial infarction care (to reduce heart attack deaths, (4) the prevention of surgical site infections (with the correct use of antibiotics around surgery), (5) the prevention of ventilator-associated pneumonia, and (6) the prevention of central line infections.
The four keys of ventilator-associated pneumonia prevention were relatively simple: elevating the head of the bed, a daily break from sedative medication, a daily assessment for the readiness to remove ventilation, ulcer prevention and deep vein thrombosis (clotting) prevention.
The campaign was a success. The IHI estimated that 122,300 lives were saved from preventable deaths.
Some of these interventions were relatively simple and they were based on what we already knew to be best practices (based on scientific evidence). The impact was significant.
Over 100,000 lives saved. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and spouses remained alive and well enough to attend weddings, birthdays, graduations and enjoy the oft neglected gifts of being alive and being with those we love.
Small things can make a big difference. This applies to each of our lives as well.
Beginning this weekend and continuing throughout this week, I’d like us all to consider small changes we can make to our routines that will improve our lives.
For example, what small change will have the greatest impact in improving your health?
What small change in your schedule will reduce your levels of stress? What small change at work will make you more productive or happier? What small change can improve your most significant relationship?