beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Quality and Safety

Silverman Institute for Health Care Quality

With countless health care professionals trained in the principle, "First, do no harm," you might think that a hospital would be one of the safest places to be. However, even the most skilled, knowledgeable and well-intentioned clinicians have the potential to make mistakes. But because medicine is one field where an error can result in significant injury to another person, finding way to prevent mishaps is essential.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has played an integral role in the quality and safety movement by using a unique blend of intuitive, back-to-basic concepts and sophisticated, customized technology to protect the welfare of its patients. Here are a few examples:

Team Training

By applying the proven team training concepts of the U.S. military and commercial aviation industry, BIDMC's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology became the first recipient of the BlueCross BlueShield of Massachusetts Health Care Excellence Award in 2007 for its "groundbreaking approach to reducing medical errors." Using techniques that encourage shared workloads and improve communication among staff, the department experienced a 35 percent reduction in "adverse events" among patients, including a 50 percent decline among patients at high-risk, over a six-year period.

Spurred on by the success of team training in OB/GYN, other physician and nursing leaders have been working to implement programs of a similar nature across the medical center, particularly the Emergency Department, surgical units, inpatient floors and critical care units.


One particular example of the way BIDMC is tailoring safety to its own unique institutional needs is Triggers. Launched by a multidisciplinary team, this program creates rapid response teams to quickly assess and treat potentially declining patients on the medical or surgical units. Prior to becoming unstable, patients will give off certain signals to warn their condition may be deteriorating. Early intervention can be key to saving their lives but interpreting these signs has been subjective and variable. Triggers creates a standardized set of criteria which improves lines of communication to ensure the most vulnerable patients get the care they need quickly.

Triggers has already achieved a more than 50 percent reduction in unexpected deaths outside the intensive care unit, as well as a decrease in cardiac arrests.


When deciding where to receive health care, you and your doctor need to feel confident that the choice is right for you. One important consideration is the quality of care. Are patients receiving the most appropriate and effective care? Is the care timely and focused on your needs as a patient? Is it safe? This kind of information can be hard to find - and harder still to understand and use.

BIDMC is committed to providing understandable, usable, and timely information on our quality and safety record - information that will help you make sound decisions and give you peace of mind. We are empowering you to get the information you need in order to make informed choices about your health. On our web site, you can see quality measurements we use internally to assess how we are doing, how our quality of care compares to that of other similar organizations (when that data is available), and what we are doing to improve the care we deliver to our patients. This data may be only one factor in your decision, but it is an important one. To see how we measure up, visit the quality and safety section of our website.


The Joint Commission

In 2007, BIDMC was awarded accreditation from The Joint Commission under the Commission's new unannounced, on-site evaluation program. The accreditation award recognizes BIDMC's dedication to complying with The Joint Commission's state-of-the-art standards on a continuous basis. In our previous Joint Commission review in 2005, BIDMC received a perfect score - no citations - an accomplishment achieved by approximately three percent of hospitals nationwide.

American College of Surgeons (ACS)

  • BIDMC's Level 1a Bariatric Center was the first weight loss program in Massachusetts to be certified by the ACS.
  • BIDMC's Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center was accredited as a Level 1 facility, the first in Boston and New England, and one of only seven inaugural certified centers in the United States to provide simulation-based skills training to health care students and professionals from all medical and surgical disciplines.
  • Level 1 Trauma Center,  verified by ACS.

College of American Pathologists (CAP)

The BIDMC Department of Pathology received accreditation from the CAP in 2007, after an unannounced visit by the organization. Previously, these visits were scheduled in advance. Federal law requires all clinical labs to be inspected every two years, and the CAP accreditation is considered one of the most comprehensive and rigorous standard of review in the world. Some of the reviewers' comments about the labs include: "the most organized lab I have ever seen" and "I want to adopt some of your policies and procedures at my hospital." BIDMC was re-surveyed for this accreditation in 2009, and are due for a surprise inspection again in 2011.

Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT)

BIDMC's stem cell transplant program was the second program in Boston to be accredited by FACT. Founded in 1996, FACT is a non-profit organization founded by the International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) and the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT) that promotes high-quality patient care and laboratory performance through voluntary inspection and accreditation in the field of cellular therapy. Accreditation by FACT is now recognized as the gold standard for approval of transplant programs in North America.

Contact Information

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215
Main Switchboard: 617-667-7000
Find a Doctor: 800-667-3000
Directions by Phone: 617-667-3000
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