Johns Hopkins wrote the rules on patient safety. But its hospitals don’t always follow them.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital sits in the heart of Baltimore. Its original building from the 19th Century still stands and is known for its dome top. (NEIL BEDI | Times)
The Johns Hopkins Hospital sits in the heart of Baltimore. Its original building from the 19th Century still stands and is known for its dome top. (NEIL BEDI | Times)
Published December 29 2018
Updated December 29 2018

BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins touts itself as a national leader in patient safety.

Its doctors invented a simple checklist credited with saving thousands of lives. They developed a system to reduce medical mistakes through teamwork and communication. They wrote one rule to follow above all: Listen to the frontline staff.

But the renowned Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and its five sister hospitals haven’t always followed those principles, the Tampa Bay Times has found.

In at least nine recent cases, the hospitals have been accused of making preventable errors or setting aside basic safety rules. Some serious problems continued long after frontline workers brought them to the attention of high-ranking executives.

In Bethesda, Md., doctors at Suburban Hospital kept performing surgeries even though Johns Hopkins had learned the operating rooms weren’t being properly cleaned, according to federal inspectors.

In the heart of Baltimore, a pediatric burn unit continued treating patients after its leader begged administrators to shut it down, saying the unit had made mistakes that left children disfigured, court records show.

And in St. Petersburg, at least eight employees warned supervisors about issues with a pair of heart surgeons at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the Times reported last month.

By late 2017, when the hospital stopped the first of those surgeons from operating, the mortality rate in its Heart Institute had tripled, and at least 11 children had died.

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