NIH to restructure hospital leadership after patient safety issues

The National Institutes of Health is looking for three new executive leaders — a CEO, COO and CMO — for its research hospital, Bethesda, Md.-based Clinical Center, according to The Washington Post.

NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, is shaking up the hospital's leadership because the focus on research had overtaken the importance of patient safety on the campus.

The NIH is no stranger to patient safety issues, and a task force was appointed last year after NIH Clinical Center had to suspend operations at a specialized pharmacy because of a possible contamination.

Dr. Collins issued a written statement in April detailing some immediate actions for safety improvement based on findings from that task force and noting the "NIH will implement other recommendations…over the course of this year." The leadership restructuring appears to be one of them.

According to an NIH statement sent to Becker's via email, the NIH will search nationwide for a "physician CEO with proven experience in management for a complex inpatient and outpatient facility."

Dr. Collins told the Post, "We believe the time has come to recognize that the Clinical Center model needs to evolve and function the way other hospitals do." The new management structure will be centralized "to more effectively focus on standards of patient safety, compliance and oversight."

Dr. Collins was also clear that the restructuring was not reflective of John Gallin, MD, who has been the director of NIH Clinical Center since 1994. "NIH is deeply grateful to Dr. Gallin and his colleagues for their dedicated leadership, and will count on them over the next few months to move this effort forward with maximum energy and intensity," the NIH statement reads.

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