Low morale, patient safety concerns persist among employees at NIH: 5 things to know

The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., still faces low morale and staff concerns regarding safety issues in the wake of a 2016 investigation, which exposed numerous patient safety issues at the center, according to a new NIH report.

Here are five things to know.

1. In 2015, fungus was found in two drug vialsmade in the hospital's pharmacy. In response, Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, convened an outside panel, known as a "red team," which investigated the NIH and released its findings in April 2016. The red team determined that the NIH hospital needed reforms that prioritize patient safety.

2. Based on the red team's findings, the NIH suspended productionat two facilities that make materials for research participants and decided to not enroll new patients in affected trials until it resolved the problems. Dr. Collins also restructured leadership at its research hospital.

3. For the new report, Stewart Simonson, a former HHS official, conducted 70 focus groups with 621 participants from every level of employment at the NIH hospital. The focus group sessions were conducted between September 2016 and January 2017.

4. In the sessions, staff expressed ongoing concerns regarding the hospital's fragmented organizational structure, inadequate communication processes and declines in infrastructure and equipment quality.

5. Despite these concerns, the report ultimately found the NIH Clinical Center to be "a great research hospital; one that has made magnificent contributions to biomedical research while providing high quality patient care." However, for the hospital to maintain its lauded status, Mr. Simonson determined the NIH governance "must be streamlined, processes must be improved and additional investments must be made in clinical equipment and infrastructure."

To read the full report, click here.

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