Policy, Hospitals

Report: NIH cleaning house in its maligned Clinical Center

Right now, Clinical Center leadership has little authority within NIH because clinicians and researchers in the hospital report to the heads of NIH’s 27 different institutes and centers.

The Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health is getting new management after a review found systemic issues with patient safety at the NIH research hospital, the Washington Post reported.

The independent review turned up evidence that patient safety had become “subservient to research demands,” according to the Post. The review, made public last month, said that “patient safety was occasionally put at risk, perhaps as a result of a well-intended, single-minded focus on research with an unintended but concerning concommitant inattention to safety.”

That report also noted that the hospital lacked a system for patients and staff to report “near misses” in patient safety, the Post reported. The review didn’t say if any specific cases of patient harm resulted from the systemic issues.

This week, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told he would hire a new CEO, COO and CMO for the Clinical Center to replace the current brass and change the management structure. “We’re looking outside for that CEO individual, whose focus is not on research but on managing all of the operations of the hospital to maintain the highest quality,” 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,” Collins added. Right now, Clinical Center leadership has little authority within NIH because clinicians and researchers in the hospital report to the heads of NIH’s 27 different institutes and centers, according to the story.

“It’s a vote of no-confidence in the structure that no longer fits the needs,” Collins said of his decision.

Photo: National Institutes of Health