Vanderbilt University Medical Center consistently stands at the top of national rankings when it comes to patient safety. In 2011, for the 12th consecutive year, the medical center was recognized as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country in a study by Thomson Reuters which evaluates performance in 10 key areas, including patient safety. Vanderbilt University Hospital was also named among the nation’s 65 Leapfrog Top Hospitals for 2011, the only Tennessee hospital that made the list. The Top Hospitals list is based on an annual hospital safety and quality survey.

The Vanderbilt Department of Anesthesiology is particularly proactive when it comes to patient safety and quality improvement, as our specialty covers the complete continuum of patient care – from pre-operative evaluation and intraoperative management, to post-operative care, pain management and beyond.

Our faculty and researchers are actively examining the effects of the introduction of new medical technology on clinical care processes. Specific studies examine human-technology interactions, as well as individual and group performance-shaping factors such as fatigue, workload, divided attention, and novel methods of information presentation. In addition to generating practical benefits in terms of improved clinical care processes, current research addresses fundamental questions about the nature of expertise, interpersonal communication, situation awareness, and decision-making under stress.

Because of increasing scope and impact outside the operating room and across multiple healthcare domains, the Center for Perioperative Research in Quality (CPRQ), founded in 2005, was renamed in November 2010 to be the Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety (CRISS). CRISS, directed by Dr. Matthew Weinger, remains located within the Department of Anesthesiology, but now serves as an institution-wide resource for human factors and systems design and improvement in healthcare.

The Center, which is part of Vanderbilts Institute for Medicine and Public Health (IMPH), lead by Dr. Robert Dittus, serves two primary functions:

  1. Basic and applied research with the goal of improving patient safety and clinical quality
  2. Design and evaluation of informatics user interfaces, care processes, and medical technology across Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Using a range of human factors engineering, cognitive psychology, and biomedical informatics techniques, CRISS studies clinical performance during patient care and in realistic simulations to better understand how and why care deviates from optimal. Interventions are then designed and evaluated to improve safety and quality. CRISS is actively involved in improving the user interfaces of Vanderbilts custom clinical information systems as well as in evaluating and redesigning of patient safety and quality care processes and tools.

Of particular interest to CRISS faculty are the effects of the introduction of new medical technology on clinical care processes. Specific studies examine human-technology interactions, as well as individual and group performance-shaping factors such as fatigue, workload, divided attention, and novel methods of information presentation. In addition to generating practical benefits in terms of improved clinical care processes, the Centers research addresses fundamental questions about the nature of expertise, interpersonal communication, situation awareness, and decision-making under stress.

Click here to visit the CRISS website.