Beth Israel Pulls up its Skirt

October 30th, 2008 | Sources: Boston Globe

Odds are, the quality of care at Beth Israel Deaconess hospital is roughly the same as that provided at Boston’s other teaching hospitals, which is to say it is excellent.

So why is it that there seems to have been a ton of medical screw-ups at The Deek lately? Almost certainly this has to do with CEO Paul Levy’s bold policy to be forthcoming when medical errors do occur rather than the typical approach in which hospital leaders try mightily to bury these stories.

Credit Levy and his team for true leadership on the matter.

To be sure, it seems like The Deek has been haunted lately. In June, the hospital fired a cosmetic surgeon after he appeared to nod off while performing liposuction. Days later, another surgeon operated on the wrong ankle of a female patient. Earlier this month, a previously terminated drug abusing staff anesthesiologist was found in a hospital closet, dead as a door nail. Cue the ghoulish music.

Medical errors big and small happen with striking regularity at all hospitals. By some counts, 15 million errors occur each year in the US (thankfully few are this egregious, however).

That’s why Levy’s relentlessly transparent approach, if he backs it up with a data-driven, scientifically based, hospital-wide improvement program, may eventually elevate The Deek’s performance to truly outstanding levels.

But what about all the short-term hits to his hospital’s reputation?  Levy isn’t worried. “We trust that over time, we will be judged fairly,” he told the Boston Globe.

It’s a shame not everyone supports the man, but Peter Zimetbaum, the hospital’s director of clinical cardiology has got Levy’s back. As a result of his CEO’s actions, “it’s safer to be a patient at Beth Israel now than at any other time in my whole career here,” Zimetbaum told the Globe.

Paul Levy’s blog, Running a Hospital, is a Pizaazz favorite. You can have a look by following the link over to the right, under Blogs about Health Policy and Management.


 

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