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Failure to rescue

Posted Jun 06 2012 8:18pm

Atul Gawande found that hospitals have high rates of variance in post surgical complications but the reason is not what he expected .

But there continue to be huge differences between hospitals in the outcomes of their care. Some places still have far higher death rates than others. And an interesting line of research has opened up asking why.

Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered the answer recently, and it has a twist I didn’t expect. I thought that the best places simply did a better job at controlling and minimizing risks—that they did a better job of preventing things from going wrong. But, to my surprise,  they didn’t . Their complication rates after surgery were almost the same as others. Instead, what they proved to be really great at was rescuing people when they had a complication, preventing failures from becoming a catastrophe.

Scientists have given a new name to the deaths that occur in surgery after something goes wrong—whether it is an infection or some bizarre twist of the stomach. They call them a “failure to rescue.” More than anything, this is what distinguished the great from the mediocre. They didn’t fail less. They rescued more.

This is something that Dawn Farm has invested a lot of energy into. I wonder if this is also what separates the best treatment centers from the rest?

[via Andrew Sullivan]

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