UK HealthCare

UK Anesthesiologist Receives National Patient Safety and Quality Award

LEXINGTON, KY (Jan. 14, 2011) — Dr. John H. Eichhorn, UK HealthCare anesthesiologist and professor of anesthesiology in the College of Medicine, and also Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Kentucky, has been named a recipient of the 2010 John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for Individual Achievement by the National Quality Forum (NQF) and the Joint Commission.

Dr. Eichhorn is being recognized for his more than 25 years of work in improving the quality of anesthesia care and patient safety through the development and application of practice standards and protocols. His contributions have led to dramatic and sustained reductions in catastrophic intra-operative anesthesia accidents, as well as improved anesthesia patient safety and quality of care overall.   In 1985, he helped start the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, which is widely recognized as the organization that established patient safety as a distinct concept, giving birth to a movement that is now universal in health care.

"Dr. Eichhorn's commitment and dedication to anesthesia patient safety has had a significant impact, both in the U.S. and globally," said Dr. Michael Karpf, Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. "He is very deserving of this prestigious award recognizing a career of highly distinguished professional service."

The annual awards were announced Jan. 12 and honor two individuals and two organizations. Other recipients are:  Dr. James L. Reinertsen, The Reinertsen Group, Alta, Wyoming; Washington State Hospital Association, Seattle, for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the national level; and The Children's Hospital at Providence Newborn Intensive Care Unit, Anchorage, Alaska, for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality at the local level.

"UK HealthCare is committed to providing the highest-quality and safest patient care possible and we are very fortunate for the leadership, expertise and experience Dr. Eichhorn brings to our team," said Dr. Richard Lofgren, chief clinical officer, vice president for health care operations. "We congratulate him on receiving this much-deserved national recognition for his defining role in improving the quality of anesthesia care and patient safety."

The patient safety awards program, launched in 2002 by NQF and The Joint Commission, honors Dr. John M. Eisenberg, former administrator of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In his roles both as AHRQ administrator and chair of the federal government's Quality Inter-Agency Coordination Task Force, he was a passionate advocate for patient safety and health care quality and personally led AHRQ's grant program to support patient safety research.

The awards will be presented Feb. 25, at NQF's Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. An early 2011 issue of "The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety" also will feature the achievements of each of the award recipients.

"The innovative and exemplary work of these individuals and health care organizations hopefully will not only inform, but also inspire others to become champions of patient safety and quality improvement. Their achievements make it clear that substantial improvements can be made in patient safety," said Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president, The Joint Commission. "We applaud their commitment and courage in pursuing changes that have improved the lives of many."

According to the letter nominating him, "Eichhorn created and implemented the concept of mandatory clinical 'standards of practice' that are above and beyond, and distinct from, 'statements', 'recommendations', and 'guidelines' as quality improvement instruments. This approach permanently changed anesthesia practice and has had a significant influence on the safety of patients anesthetized in the U.S. and much of the developed world during the past 20 years."