Inova’s Chief Physician Executive and High Reliability Officer sets the bar high

Loring Flint, MDAs the Chief Physician Executive and High Reliability Officer, Loring Flint, MD, is tasked with setting top priorities and ensuring quality, safety and effective results create a positive patient experience. In 2018, his role shifted from Chief Medical Officer to Chief Physician Executive to help coordinate physician partnerships, drive the strategic direction of Inova and maintain operating responsibility for several departments.

What are you hoping to accomplish in your new role?

We are trying to create excellence in everything we do and have a zero-harm goal for all of our organizations. The latter is an aspirational goal because we are dealing with humans; the biology is different in each person, and how each handles medications, procedures and fighting disease is different. A key focus is eliminating and preventing any infections obtained in a hospital.

How are you trying to make this goal a reality?

It starts with the simplest thing: 100 percent hand washing — washing hands when going in and out of a room, and after touching a patient or various pieces of equipment in the room. It’s making sure you have sterile barriers when you’re inserting a catheter or IV and cleaning the line every day and removing the catheters as soon as they are no longer needed. We are standardizing our processes to be sure we are doing everything possible to not inadvertently transmit an infection to a patient.

What success have you seen so far?

Over the past two years, using a commonly accepted measure of harm, we have decreased harm by over 57 percent. We have a number of units, such as our pediatric oncology team, that have gone over 12 months without having an infection with a central line. Several units have had three to six months with no harm.

What question should physicians be asking patients more readily?

Ask a patient at the end of the visit, “Is there anything else I can answer or do for you today?” It opens the door for the quiet issue that is lurking in the background. If a patient is coming in for a blood pressure check, you might learn they are really concerned about depression. It’s important to make sure you’re really being open and partnering with your patients.

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