AURORA | Daniel Hyman might be a New Yorker at heart but he enjoys hobbies that are quintessentially Coloradan: bicycling, hiking and skiing.
It wasn’t just because he relishes being outdoors that he decided in 2008 to leave his home state and his job at the New York Presbyterian Hospital to work at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Four years ago, he decided to fill the newly created position of chief quality officer at Children’s because he admired the hospital’s caliber and the efforts it was making to become an even better health-care institution.
“I wouldn’t have left my job in New York for very many opportunities,” said Hyman, who was previously the chief medical officer for ambulatory care and the chief quality officer for children’s hospital of New York Presbyterian.
As chief quality officer, Hyman focuses on improving quality and patient safety at the hospital.
It’s a lofty mission, but one that he sees as extremely important.
“We have more than 6,000 people who work in the hospital and they care for thousands of children, many of whom have complicated medical conditions that don’t behave in predictable ways,” he said. “There are many ways that a health-care system can fail, and it’s challenging every day to try to make sure people are doing exactly what they need to be doing to keep their patients safe.”
Hyman, who is also an associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and his staff of about 30 people have made concrete strides in the arena of quality and patient safety.
For example, last year they began taking photographs of every child who entered the hospital for treatment. That way, when doctors electronically ordered tests or medications for patients, they could look at the child’s photograph on the computer screen and make sure they were ordering the right tests for the right patient.
“It’s a strategy for using the computer to make care safer,” Hyman said.
The hospital has also decreased the number of bloodstream infections in children with catheters by about 50 percent. In addition, Hyman’s department is working with families of patients who are also focused on improving care and reducing the number of mistakes made by hospital staff.
Snafus in communication among patients, staff members and families are sometimes the hardest quality control problems to fix, Hyman said. That’s because everyone has different ways of communicating, he said.
“We know from our personal lives within our families that we sometimes say things that are hurtful or people don’t understand, and the same thing happens in a hospital,” he said. “Those communication challenges can get in the way of sick patient care.”
Communication problems sometimes arise when a nurse or parent observes something wrong with a patient, but is reassured by a doctor that everything is fine.
“It’s possible that the first observation was right, and in that communication someone doesn’t stop and think about what’s going on and you can have an error,” Hyman said.
To combat those problems, Hyman said hospital staff are taught to consider the situation and background, then assess the situation and make a recommendation — a tool with the acronym “SBAR” that was originally developed by the military.
“We’re teaching people the importance of effective communication for patient safety in order to reduce the risk of communication failure,” Hyman said.
Hyman, who graduated from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1986 and was a general pediatrician between 1989 and 2002 at Erdenheim Pediatrics in Pennsylvania, has no plans to return to the East Coast anytime soon.
He visited Colorado sporadically to ski until he moved here permanently in 2008, and expanded his outdoor pursuits to spring and summertime activities. Now, he calls Colorado home.
“I’m like all those other people that thought that coming to Colorado was about the winter, and discovered pretty quickly that it’s all about the summer,” he said.
His passion for bicycling has led him to participate in the Children’s Hospital’s “Courage Classic” bike ride for the past four years. Through the Courage Classic, he has raised about $86,000 for hospital endeavors like the hospital sports program, which provides ski and snowboard training for kids with physical disabilities.
Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or [email protected]