Peter J. Pronovost is an intensive care specialist physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, and Surgery, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and is Medical Director for the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care.
He introduced an intensive care checklist protocol that during an 18-month period saved 1500 lives and $100 million in the State of Michigan. According to Atul Gawande in The New Yorker, Pronovost's "work has already saved more lives than that of any laboratory scientist in the past decade".
In 2008 Time named Pronovost one of the 100 most influential people in the world; that same year, Pronovost was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, otherwise known as a "genius grant".
Pronovost's book Safe patients, smart hospitals: how one doctor's checklist can help us change health care from the inside out was released in February 2010.
Pronovost grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut. His parents were an elementary school teacher and a math professor. He received his B.S. from Fairfield University, M.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In his Ph.D. thesis at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, he documented that in intensive-care units in Maryland, an intensive care specialist on the staff reduced death rates by a third.
In 2003 he founded the Quality and Safety Research Group. He has published over 200 articles and chapters on patient safety and advises the World Health Organization on improving patient safety measurement through WHO's World Alliance for Patient Safety. 
He started studying hospital-acquired infections in 2001, concluding that a simple 5 item checklist protocol would greatly reduce infections when inserting a central venous catheter.
- Wash their hands with soap.
- Clean the patient’s skin with chlorhexidine antiseptic.
- Put sterile drapes over the entire patient.
- Wear a sterile mask, hat, gown and gloves.
- Put a sterile dressing over the catheter site.
In the 2003 Michigan study called the Keystone Initiative the median rate of infections dropped at a typical ICU from 2.7 per 1,000 patients to zero after three months. The Keystone Initiative published its results in the December, 2006 New England Journal of Medicine. In the first three months of the project, the infection rate in Michigan’s ICUs decreased by sixty-six per cent. In the Initiative’s first eighteen months, they estimated that 1500 lives and $100 million were saved. These results were sustained for almost four years.
Several reasons may explain why a simple checklist protocol is not more widely adapted:
- Many physicians do not like being monitored by nurses or otherwise being forced to follow a checklist;
- A wish to avoid standardized tasks and bureaucracy; and
- A focus by researchers on "more exciting" issues such as disease biology and new treatment therapies.
According to Pronovost:
- The fundamental problem with the quality of American medicine is that we’ve failed to view delivery of health care as a science. The tasks of medical science fall into three buckets. One is understanding disease biology. One is finding effective therapies. And one is ensuring those therapies are delivered effectively. That third bucket has been almost totally ignored by research funders, government, and academia. It’s viewed as the art of medicine. That’s a mistake, a huge mistake. And from a taxpayer’s perspective it’s outrageous.
In 2011, Pronovost was recognized for his outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service with election to membership in the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
- ^ a b "2008 MacArthur Fellow: Peter Pronovost". John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.4537281/. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
- ^ Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD, ScD (hon), FCCM
- ^ Dreifus, Claudia (2010-03-09). "Doctor Leads Quest for Safer Ways to Care for Patient". The New York Times: p. D2. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/science/09conv.html. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- ^ "Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, FCCM". Center for Innovation for Quality in Patient Care. http://www.hopkinsquality.com/CFI/inside/experts/CFI_IH_Pronovost.asp. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ "Doctor Saved Michigan $100 Million". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. December 9, 2007. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17060374. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ a b c d Gawande, Atul (December 2007). "The Checklist, If something so simple can transform intensive care, what else can it do?". New Yorker Magazine: p. 86. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/12/10/071210fa_fact_gawande. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ Kingsbury, Kathleen (May 2008). "The 2008 TIME 100". TIME Magazine (Time Warner). http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1733748_1733754_1735344,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ O'Reilly, Kevin B. (2010-03-08). "Infection rates drop as Michigan hospitals turn to checklists". American Medical News. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2010/03/01/prsa0301.htm. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
- ^ "Peter Pronovost recognised by Time Magazine". World Health Organization. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/patientsafety/news/pronovost_time_100_list/en/index.html. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ Brody, Jane E. (January 22, 2008). "A Basic Hospital To-Do List Saves Lives". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/health/22brod.html?pagewanted=print. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
- ^ Pronovost P, Needham D, Berenholtz S, et al. (December 2006). "An intervention to decrease catheter-related bloodstream infections in the ICU". N. Engl. J. Med. 355 (26): 2725–32. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa061115. PMID 17192537. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/355/26/2725.
- ^ Goldsmith, Marshall (January 15, 2008). "Preparing Your Professional Checklist". Business Week. http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jan2008/ca20080115_768325.htm?chan=careers_managing+index+page_managing+your+career. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
- ^ Johns Hopkins Scientists Elected Into Institute of Medicine, accessed October 17, 2011.
- Peter J. Pronovost, Testimony before Government Oversight Committee, April 16, 2008 from johnshopkins.edu
- Johns Hopkins University Quality and Safety Research Group from jhu.edu
- Teaming Up to Improve Quality
- Video from the MacArthur Fellow website
- Video "Dr. Checklist" on My Generation AARP.ORG
- Dreifus, Claudia (March 8, 2010). "A Conversation with Dr. Peter J. Pronovost: Doctor Leads Quest for Safer Ways to Care for Patients". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/science/09conv.html?partner=rss&emc=rss. Retrieved March 24, 2010.
- "The Secret to Fighting Infections", article on Pronovost by Laura Landro, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2011.