"I'm losing my patience"

February 1, 2005

As George Bernard Shaw once said, "Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done." While accidental fatalities, even those caused by preventable mistakes and human errors, are a far cry from murder, Don Berwick, MD, has seen enough death. He's also heard enough rhetoric about ways to improve healthcare quality.

He has recently started borrowing a political maxim: "Some is not a number; soon is not a time." During his opening presentation at IHI's 2003 meeting, he asked attendees which would happen first: Americans get the healthcare system they need and deserve, or the Red Sox win the World Series?

"I bet against Boston," says the avowed member of Red Sox Nation. "My mistake. What I should have done is set a deadline for fixing healthcare."

A man who rarely makes the same mistake twice, he now has a very specific, time-sensitive plan: to save 100,000 lives by 9 a.m., June 14, 2006. It will be accomplished by launching IHI's "100,000 Lives Campaign," which aims to incorporate six changes into 1,600 U.S. hospitals within the next year and a half. The words "some" and "soon" don't appear anywhere in his game plan.

THE BIG SIX The Campaign's six change initiatives are: