Task force calls for sweeping patient safety reforms at NIH's Clinical Center

A panel of independent experts has called for sweeping changes in the patient safety practices at the National Institute of Health (NIH)'s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, in a new report.

The report found overemphasis on research came at the expense of patient safety.

The task force, known as the "red team" charges the Clinical Center, the NIH's flagship hospital and the largest research hospital in the world, with placing the advancement of science over the health and safety of patients. And it's a situation that NIH Director Francis S. Collins tells National Public Radio he will rectify at once.

Former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, who chaired the investigative committee, told the publication that the emphasis on research and trying to save people's lives was so great at the Clinical Center that there was a "cultural attitude that overshadowed handling some of the details that are important details."

While there is no evidence that anyone was harmed, Collins told the publication on Thursday that he will appoint an external board, headed by Laura Forese, chief operating officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, to help redesign the Clinical Center's practices.

The Center's pharmaceutical development section was closed for a time last year due to safety and health violations, according to NPR, after inspectors discovered numerous hazards, including insects in the ceiling lights and fungal contamination in vials.

To learn more:
- download the report (.pdf)
- here's the NPR article