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Dome - Armstrong Institute to develop ideal ICU

December 2011

Armstrong Institute to develop ideal ICU

Date: December 16, 2011

Peter Pronovost
Peter Pronovost, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

As many as 100 pieces of medical equipment, ranging from cardiac monitors and ventilators to catheters and IV lines, help sustain critically ill patients in hospital intensive care units. So many complicated devices functioning independently can distract caregivers and create an inefficient environment, making patients vulnerable to medical errors, according to Peter Pronovost, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.

A new agreement between the Armstrong Institute and Lockheed Martin Corporation seeks to change that.

Hopkins researchers are teaming up with the global security and information technology company to study and develop alternative approaches to ICU care. Lockheed Martin’s computer-generated simulation and modeling software will allow safety scientists in a learning lab to use actual ICU data to determine whether new devices or processes would improve patient care. The technology also can serve as a training tool for health care providers to test out new equipment and systems in a virtual world, similar to the way that pilots learn to fly an aircraft.

The Armstrong Institute also has received a $10 million award for a project designed to reduce surgical-site infections and other major complications of colon surgery. The grant is a partnership with the American College of Surgeons. The funding comes from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pronovost says the work will use the five-step checklist approach Hopkins developed to reduce bloodstream infections associated with central-line catheters in intensive care units. AHRQ has also awarded the Armstrong Institute more than $700,000 for a program to develop and implement the checklist system to prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia.

—Shannon Swiger