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Chasing Zero: Can Reality Meet the Rhetoric?

Denham, Charles R. MD*†‡; Angood, Peter MD§∥; Berwick, Don MD, MPP; Binder, Leah MA, MGA**; Clancy, Carolyn M. MD††; Corrigan, Janet M. PhD, MBA§; Hunt, David MD, FACS‡‡

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e3181c1b470
Original Articles

Objectives: Leaders from healthcare quality, purchasing, and certifying sectors convened at a national leadership meeting held September 8-9, 2008 in Washington, DC to address issues of Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs). This paper provides opinion interviews from leaders who spoke at a session entitled "The Quality Choir: A Call to Action For Hospital Executives" on whether zero HAIs should be the goal of our Hospitals.

Methods: The successes of many hospitals in dramatically reducing their infection rates were examined toward goals of "Chasing Zero" infections.

Results: They agreed that the rhetoric of Chasing Zero HAIs must become reality, that anything less than aspiring to eradicate the risk of giving infections to patients for whom we deliver care is unacceptable.

Conclusion: Every hospital leader must re-evaluate the strategy, structure, and function of their infection control and prevention services toward the following parameters:

  • Zero HAIs must be the goal.
  • Purchasers will no longer wait for hospital losses to act.
  • Forces of harmonization are an unprecedented force.
  • New-found hospitals' harmonized standards can move from "playing defense" to "playing offense" against HAIs.
  • Leaders must ignite the passion of teams to make rhetoric a reality.
  • Real stories about real people communicate through real caregiver values.
  • The power trio of governance, administrative, and medical leaders must turn their potential energy into action.
  • We have the "what" we need to aim for, the "how" to get the job done, and it is now about engaging the "who" to seize the opportunity.
  • Embrace champions to lead the charge.

From the *Texas Medical Institute of Technology, Austin, Texas; †Leapfrog Safe Practices Program, Washington, District of Columbia; ‡National Quality Forum Safe Practice Consensus Committee, Washington, District of Columbia; §National Quality Forum, Washington, District of Columbia; ∥National Quality Forum Safe Practices Steering Committee, Washington, District of Columbia; ¶Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Cambridge, Massachusetts; **The Leapfrog Group, Washington, District of Columbia; ††AHRQ, Rockville, Maryland; and ‡‡Office of Health Information Technology Adoption, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, District of Columbia.

Correspondence: Charles R. Denham, MD, Chairman, Texas Medical Institute of Technology, 3011 North Inter-regional Highway-35, Austin, TX 78722 (e-mail:

Funding support for this session was provided by Texas Medical Institute of Technology.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.