By Noam N. Levey
The cardiac intensive care unit at Egleston Children’s Hospital in Atlanta gleams and hums with a dazzling array of scientific wonders that breathe for tiny lungs and monitor every beat of an infant heart.
But on a recent visit, Dr. Donald Berwick was especially pleased by something decidedly low-tech: a quiet zone where nurses can place medication orders without being interrupted, even during emergencies.
Hospital leaders created the zone — little more than a computer terminal in a corner of the room behind an orange sign on the floor that reads “Shh … We’re in the MedZone” — two years ago after noticing that distracted staff members were making dangerous mistakes when ordering medicine.
The deceptively simple system, built on a principle used in aviation, cut medication errors by two-thirds, saving money and lives.