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Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute awards Rush nearly $125,000 for new patient-safety project

The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute has awarded Rush University Medical Center a $124,633 grant to support a first-of-its-kind patient-safety project. The pilot program will use Rushs mediation program to foster the development of interventions to avoid or modify activities and procedures that may have adverse effects on patients. This innovative program has the potential to serve as a model for similar mediation programs throughout Chicago and the nation.

Mediation is a voluntary process in which a trained mediator serves as a neutral guide to help resolve problems that otherwise may go to court. In Rushs mediation and patient-safety project, the mediation process is used to amicably resolve disputes and then moves to ensure that corrective action is taken to prevent avoidable adverse events in the future.

Rush envisions a leading-edge approach to reducing future medical malpractice actions. Under The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute grant, patient safety officers will become an integral part of the Rush Mediation Program, offering clinical strategies to reduce the possibility that similar incidents will occur, said Max D. Brown, JD, vice president and general counsel of the Office of Legal Affairs.

The mediation team, led by Brown and Judge Jerome Lerner, mediation consultant in the Office of Legal Affairs, will review a sampling of cases. They will select those with critical safety issues and that best represent preventable harms while holding promise to effect lasting change on patient safety. A team will conduct a root cause analysis of those cases. Robert A. McNutt, MD, chief of the Section of Medical Informatics and Patient Safety, will serve as medical advisor on evidence and study designs for the patient safety projects that emanate from these cases. The team will disseminate its findings to senior executives within Rush and later to Chicagos medical and legal communities. The grants internal and external educational goals will be advanced by increasing awareness within these communities as to their findings and the value of the approach.

We hope this pilot project spurs the development of innovations that engage the medical and legal communities in a shared goal of improving quality and patient safety, McNutt said.

The Medical Malpractice Mediation Program at Rush, started in 1995, is nationally recognized for its effective method of resolving medical malpractice disputes by acknowledging adverse events and fairly compensating patients who may have been injured as a result. Rushs mediation program is unique in that two co-mediators, themselves experienced trial attorneys, are selected by the injured patient to preside over the process. In 2001, Rushs mediation program received the Center for Public Resources Outstanding Achievement Award, and in 2003, it was specifically cited in tort reform legislation adopted in Pennsylvania as a model for resolution of malpractice claims.

The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute was founded in 1911 by a leading Chicago businessman as a nonprofit foundation with a mandate to pursue the investigation of the cause of disease and the prevention and relief of human suffering in Chicago. Today, this philanthropy is managed by a board of volunteers dedicated to carrying out this goal. Support of this mediation and patient-safety project builds on The Institutes work to create the Chicago Patient Safety Forum and to support a variety of innovative approaches that will reduce errors through collaboration and interdisciplinary research. This grant along with a $230,000 grant for a new childhood obesity reduction project at Rush are just two of the ways that The Institutes Board continues to carry out its philanthropic mission.

As a Chicago-based philanthropy, The Institute has focused on enabling promising local health and wellness initiatives to develop and replicate. Over the years, Rush and its predecessors have consistently used our grants to achieve our shared vision. We are confident these grants will continue this pattern of significant outcomes that promote health, improve care, and reduce costs through innovation said James N. Alexander, The Institutes Executive Director.


Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
Rush University Medical Center

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