Up Close With ... Robert Imhoff, President & CEO of Maryland Patient Safety Center

Up Close With catches up with Maryland Patient Safety Center President & CEO Robert Imhoff to learn about some of his team’s upcoming efforts and their goal of making health care services in Maryland the safest in the nation.

What is the mission of the Maryland Patient Safety Center? 

In short, our goal is to make health care in Maryland the safest in the entire country. We work toward that goal by being a center for patient safety innovation, convening providers of health care services to accelerate our understanding of and implementing evidence based solutions for preventing avoidable harm. While we are directly serving the providers, including hospitals, surgery centers, etc., we also serve patients and individuals throughout the state of Maryland. If we can improve the environment of care and make the way the providers deliver that care safer, then ultimately, the beneficiaries are the patients.

How does the Maryland Patient Safety Center make an impact?
The foundation of what we do is education and training. We do this through the classroom, through webinars and conferences, with our two cornerstone pieces being our fall medication safety conference and our spring patient safety conference that attracts more than 1,300 attendees each year.

Through our programs, we’ve impacted a number of aspects of healthcare. We’ve reduced the number of first time C-sections, we are standardizing treatment protocols for infants with neonatal abstinence syndrome, we have lowered sepsis mortality by nearly 20% and dramatically increased hand hygiene and surface contamination in Maryland hospitals. These are just a few of the programs we’ve seen positive outcomes from throughout the state.

Does safer health care cost more or result in cost savings?
When we work with the provider community and they are able to reduce the number of hospital acquired infections that means lower healthcare costs, shorter hospital stays and lower overall utilization, which saves significant money within the healthcare system. And while that’s great, what we are doing is really saving lives. We are inspired by the fact that we are able to make a difference and that we are able to help the providers do the very hard work and good work that they do.

What are some of the Maryland Patient Safety Center’s upcoming initiatives?
One of our goals for the patient safety center is to continue to be innovative and proactive. We are on the cutting edge of patient safety with a few of our upcoming initiatives. One is a study to determine the scope of errors in diagnosis. A diagnosis won’t be correct if the process isn’t started correctly; there are a lot of problems that can ensue from an improper diagnosis, which leads to improper treatment, etc. This is a very important emerging patient safety issue.

We are also looking at the current state of the opioid crisis by working with a number of different organizations on a statewide consumer education program as well as a physician education program. Our goal is to help both doctors and patients better understand the issues surrounding opioid use. We are teaching them about proper storage and disposal and how everyone can be a more informed consumer of health care services.

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