- The National Institutes of Health said it will replace leadership at its flagship hospital after an independent review concluded that research demands were trumping patient safety, The Washington Post reported.
- NIH Director Francis Collins told staff Tuesday that a new management team with patient safety and oversight experience will be assembled to run the NIH Clinical Center.
- The review, conducted by a task force appointed by Collins, revealed a series of gaps in safety oversight, including lack of an adequate system for patients to anonymously report “near misses” and failure to follow up on problems that were identified.
While no patients were found to have been harmed, the task force expressed concern that NIH’s organizational structure and lack of centralized authority puts patients at risk. “We believe the time has come to recognize that the Clinical Center model needs to evolve and function the way other hospitals do,” Collins told the Post.
He is recruiting for three physicians to serve as chief executive, chief operating officer and chief medical officer, and hopes to have them on board by the end of the year.
The 2000-bed hospital sees about 24,000 research volunteers a year. About 11% of NIH’s budget is devoted to internal clinical research. The researchers and physicians conducting those studies report to the heads of NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, not to hospital officials. Such fragmented authority impedes central decisionmaking and accountability, the task force said.
In addition to the shakeup, NIH has created a board to oversee the Clinical Center’s operations and a compliance office.