Intended for healthcare professionals


US campaign to save 100 000 lives exceeds its target

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 22 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1468
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    The US Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 100 000 lives campaign to prevent unnecessary deaths in hospitals actually saved 122 342 lives.

    Donald Berwick, president and chief executive officer of the institute, announced the success of the 18 month campaign at the institute's second annual international meeting on redesigning hospital care in Atlanta, Georgia, last week. Authors from the institute described the campaign in the BMJ earlier this month (2006;332: 1328-30).

    Through the campaign the institute has built a national infrastructure with regional field offices to promulgate improvements in health care.

    About 100 hospitals that successfully implemented the campaign are serving as mentors to other hospitals. The campaign has also developed “how to” guides for hospitals, available on its website (

    In a press conference Dr Berwick explained that the estimate of the number of lives saved—or unnecessary in-hospital deaths prevented—was based on a month by month comparison of in-hospital mortality in 2004 and then in 2005, after the 3100 hospitals participating began using some or all of the campaign's six quality improvement changes.

    Hospitals participating in the campaign represent about 75% of all US hospital beds. They agreed to implement some or all of the six quality improvement changes:

    • Activating a rapid response team to respond at the first sign

    • Preventing deaths from heart attacks by giving aspirin and • blockers (2288 hospitals)

    • Preventing medication errors by updating and reviewing patients' drugs (2185 hospitals)

    • Preventing infections from central lines by hand washing and cleaning the patient's skin with an antiseptic (1925 hospitals)

    • Preventing surgical site infections by several steps, including timely administration of antibiotics (2133 hospitals), and

    • Preventing pneumonia in patients on ventilators by four steps, including raising the head of the patient by between 30 and 45 degrees (1982 hospitals).


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