Thursday, February 03, 2005

The O’Neill Factor

The January 24 issue of Modern Healthcare has an article about Paul O'Neill, the retired Alcoa CEO who was (briefly) George W's Secretary of the Treasury. When he went back to Pittsburgh, he went onto the Board of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He recently resigned from that, saying that UPMC was not serious about wanting to improve. He wanted them to eliminate medication errors. One surmises from the article that they just smiled at him indulgently.

He has also helped form something called the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative, of which he is now CEO. PRHI has the goal of improving health care safety and quality. The reaction of the UPMC apparently has been cool.

Speaking of the state of health care in the U.S., O'Neill is quoted as saying "It’s just unbelievable to me how accepting society is of scandalously low performance standards in health and medical care."

He also said that there is not a hospital administrator in the country that has "publicly declared that they are responsible for everything that goes on in their facility, including most importantly for everything gone wrong - that they are personally responsible." He said that without that conviction and commitment, it's almost impossible to fundamentally change the status quo.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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