Millionaire’s Mission: Joe Kiani Wants Zero Patient Deaths Due to Medical Error

Joe Kiani, founder and CEO of Masimo, is photographed at the company's headquarters in Irvine, California January 27, 2017. Kiani invented non-invasive patient monitoring medical devices. Photo by Kendrick Brinson
Photo by Kendrick Brinson

STAT news reporter USHA LEE MCFARLING recently reported on the work of patient safety advocate Joe Kiani, a millionaire on a mission to solve patient deaths attributed to medical error. I have previously participated in Joe’s annual Patient Safety Summit as a representative of SimGHOSTS, and found the man, the mission, and the organization a powerful voice for improving healthcare. Check out this excerpt of the article by Usha on STAT news:

Joe Kiani likes to point out that the most worn spot on most medical monitoring devices is the mute button. He’s out to change that — and, he hopes, to stop the epidemic of preventable hospital death that kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. It’s not a glamorous cause. And Kiani is not a household name. But he is a multimillionaire with a proven track record of using engineering smarts to fix dogged problems; he made his fortune improving the humble pulse oximeter, which measures oxygen saturation in the blood. Now, he’s pushing a nerdy, but elegant, idea for saving lives: prodding manufacturers of medical devices and electronic records to open their platforms so all the systems can talk to each other.

His tech fix — if widely implemented — could bring order to the cacophony of beeps, buzzes, and blaring alarms that can so overwhelm nurses and doctors that they push “mute” and miss true emergencies. It could make it easier for staff to monitor patients with complex needs. And it could flag, in advance, potentially fatal errors like incorrect dosing and drug allergies. Manufacturers, naturally, aren’t so eager to share their computer code. But Kiani is not one to give up. He stages a glitzy patient safety summit each year, attracting big-name speakers like Bill Clinton and Joe Biden to pound home the need for hospitals to stop killing their patients.

Kiani runs his own medical device company, Masimo, from a building so airy and modern it stood in for Stark Enterprises in the first “Iron Man” movie. “It’s probably better he didn’t become a doctor,” mused Dr. Steven Barker, a professor emeritus of anesthesiology and aeronautical engineer at the University of Arizona who now works as chief science officer for Masimo. “He wouldn’t have saved nearly as many lives.” Soon after graduating, Kiani got a chance to work on pulse oximeters. The geek in him was captivated. “I couldn’t believe you could shine light in your finger and measure oxygen in your blood,” he said. “I just loved the idea.”


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When Kiani began to put faces to the statistics, he was shaken. One of those faces belonged to 11-year-old Leah Coufal, who died in December of 2002 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She’d had routine surgery to correct a mild chest deformity and apparently received a massive dose of fentanyl to control pain — enough to stop her breathing. Her mother, Lenore Alexander, couldn’t talk about Leah’s death for a decade. When she started speaking out, Kiani listened. He was shocked to realize his own daughter — who is fine now — had surgery in the same hospital, with the same surgeon, in the same week as Leah. “That could have been me,” Kiani told the people gathered at his first patient summit in 2013. “It could have been you.”

He was also shocked to find Leah had not been monitored after surgery, not even with a simple pulse oximeter. Another name Kiani couldn’t keep out of his mind at the time was Rory Staunton, a 12-year old from New York who scraped his arm in gym class, then died from a sepsis infection that simple screening tools could have detected.  

How one hospital is beating sepsis and saving lives “He wondered: “Why are people going into hospitals and not coming out?’” said Frederic J. Harris, an electrical engineering professor at San Diego State University who taught Kiani and remains close to him.

He’s working to create the architecture that hospitals could use to network their tens of thousands of devices into what he calls a “truly neutral, two-way plug and play” system. Once those standards are in place, he said, “I’m going to call vendors on their data pledges — very publicly.”

Read the full article on STAT news today


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Simulation Industry Represented at Patient Safety Movement Midyear Planning Meeting

joe kiani patient safety simulation

Organization Founder and Masimo CEO Joe Kiani opened the Patient Safety Movement midyear planning meeting this morning at the Innova Fairfax Medical Campus in Washington DC. He reminded the 100+ professionals in attendance about the mission of the patient safety movement to reduce deaths due to medical error to zero by 2020. The hashtag for the day’s events are #0x2020 #2016mpm. Joe reported that since the movement began over 1700 hospitals and 59 medtech companies have pledged patient safety changes which will save almost 25,000 lives annually.

Today’s goal Joe said was to “brainstorm and select the Actionable Patient Safety Solutions (APSS) for the next Patient Safety Movement Summit” taking place February 2017 in Dana Point, California.

Charles Murphy MD CPSS, Chief Patient Safety Officer of the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, introduced the days events:

  • Team Training to Improve Patient Safety By Dr. Murphy
  • The Use of Simulation in Improve Patient Safety By Dr. Marko, Director of Inova Center for Advanced Medical Simulation
  • Legislative Front: Improving Quality and Patient Safety by Rhode Island Senator Whitehouse
  • Communication for Safety by Dr. Dagi, Chairman of the Council in Surgical and Preoperative Care
  • Human Factors Engineering by Dr. Fairbanks, Director for the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare at Medstar
  • Principles of High Reliability Organizations by Dr. Betzelos, Chief Medical Officer of Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
  • Systems Engineering by Mr. Grant, Chief Engineer of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab
  • Keynote Speaker: Dr. Shuren, Director for the center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Simulation Presentation

emily-marko-patient-safety-simulation-meeting

Dr. Emily Marko, MD FACOG, Medical Director of the Inova Center for Advanced Medical Simulation provided a presentation about the use of simulation in patient safety starting with highlights from her center. Dr. Marko broke down the types of simulation training and equipment to demonstrate the potential for experiential learning. She reminded the audience that simulation covers a majority of the issues related to patient safety including: team training, team communication, skills acquisition and more.

Emily shared various simulation success stories from Inova including:

  • Four-fold reduction of neonatal injuries and improve teamwork in decision making.
  • 38% reduction to start compressions
  • Improvement in the reduction of hospital induced medical infections

Dr. Marko also highlighted a video from the Inova Simulation Center covering an OB/GYN shoulder dystocia simulation scenario:

At the end of today, audience members will vote on the topics for action at the 2017 event — and I think you know what HealthySimulation.com will be voting for!

Learn more at the Patient Safety Movement website and
Following @HealthySim tweets throughout the day!

2016 Patient Safety Movement Summit Shared Challenges and Solutions for Zero Preventable Deaths by 2020

patient safety movement

At the Patient Safety Movement earlier this year the audience of patient advocates, industry representatives, media, and healthcare professionals met near Laguna Beach to address the issue of preventable medical errors in healthcare. The organization was founded in 2012 by Joe Kiani and medical device manufacturer Masimo. Former President Bill Clinton provided the keynote address inspiring attendees to continue the mission of zero preventable deaths by 2020. As simulation’s end goal is the improvement of learning outcomes and patient safety outcomes, HealthySim will be sharing some of the moments captured during this event over the next month. HealthySim hopes this will highlight the opportunity for the growing global healthcare simulation community to better connect with the Patient Safety Movement to foster excellence and collaborative in healthcare training. Today in this first video a highlight of the 2016 Summit:

The Patient Safety Movement Mission

A disconnected understanding of the patient and appropriate care pathway has a devastating impact in both lives and costs. Saving lives and helping to prevent the more than 200,000 preventable patient deaths each year can largely be addressed by connecting the dots between current processes and procedures and proven solutions that are available today. By bringing the medical technologies and IT infrastructure together with relevant information, intelligent and predictive algorithms, and decision support that facilitate process of care improvements, physicians and patients could be informed of dangerous trends, lives could be saved, and costs could be dramatically reduced. Getting to ZERO will take all of us working together – clinicians, administrators, medical technology companies, payers, government, and patients.

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation was created to aggressively address this problem. The Foundation is breaking down the silos between hospitals, medical technology companies, doctors, engineers, and families of patients who have died needlessly. The mission of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation is to do the following:

  1. Unify the healthcare ecosystem
  2. Identify the challenges that are killing patients to create actionable solutions
  3. Ask hospitals to implement Actionable Patient Safety Solutions
  4. Promote transparency
  5. Ask med tech companies to share the data their devices generate in order to create a Patient Data Super Highway to help identify at-risk patients
  6. Correct misaligned incentives
  7. Promote love and patient dignity
  8. Empower providers, patients, and families through education of medical terminology and medical errors so they may better advocate for their loved ones.

And ultimately get to ZERO preventable deaths by 2020!

2016 World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit

The 4th Annual Summit brought together leaders from healthcare organizations, the healthcare industry, the patient advocacy community, and public policy makers to discuss solutions to the leading challenges causing preventable death in hospitals.

This year the event received commitments from organizations representing 1,631 hospitals that have collectively saved 24,643 lives. The group also announced the winners of our first ever Patient Safety Innovation Award competition as well as their annual Humanitarian Awards.

Learn more on the Patient Safety Movement Website today!


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