CHEPS Pulse: New Horizons for Founding Director James Bagian, August 2021

In This Issue

New Horizons for Founding Director James Bagian

In 2020, Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety (CHEPS) Founding Director, Dr. Jim Bagian, passed the Director title onto Dr. Amy Cohn, current Faculty Director of CHEPS. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t stay busy! Dr. Bagian is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the new Center for Risk Assessment-Informed Decision Engineering (RAIDE). According to its mission statement, the new center is “dedicated to increasing the probability of program success by improving decisions that are made during all project phases by assuring decisions are informed by and predicated upon a deliberate and proactive identification and assessment of hazards their associated risks.” 

Jim Bagian
Dr. James Bagian

Looking back on his time at CHEPS, Dr. Bagian said, “I think there are things we did where we had more impact than I thought we would and I think there are some places where we haven’t had that impact yet. Providing experiential learning is an area where we’ve done well. We hear that from our students and from the ‘customers’ of CHEPS that they work with. Not only do we get favorable feedback, but we also have concrete demonstrable things we have accomplished. I’m very happy with how that’s gone and to see our students’ pride with what they’ve done.” He also cited the work he and the Surgical Instruments Team did saying he’s proud of the team “improving the processing of surgical instruments by an order of magnitude.” He believes CHEPS will continue to have an increasing impact on healthcare and, after ten years at CHEPS, felt it was time for Dr. Cohn to become the Director. “She has been a pivotal force in bringing CHEPS to where it is today and it is absolutely appropriate that she assume the Director’s position. She deserves it and it is good for CHEPS,” he said. 

While Dr. Bagian knew he’d continue to be involved in CHEPS, he began to consider what to do next in 2019, “I was very interested in how decisions that are made are influenced by the identification of risk, its management, and the way risk is communicated; these factors can either make the sustainable achievement of goals more likely or, if done poorly or ignored, result in undesirable and tragic outcomes. We certainly see in healthcare and other pursuits such as engineering that it’s seldom just that we didn’t have certain factual knowledge but rather how that factual knowledge was used and how it was communicated that played a larger role in the outcomes. People are involved. There are emotions involved. And competing interests of all types. All of these factors must be viewed as a system when arriving at any decision.” This led to Dr. Bagian proposing to Dean Gallimore the creation of RAIDE.
The College of Engineering asked Dr. Bagian and Dr. Seth Guikema, co-founder and the Director of Research and Education at RAIDE, to consult on COVID-19 related issues. Dr. Guikema and Dr. Bagian mapped out the risks at the College of Engineering due to COVID. Among other things their report emphasized the importance of communicating risks to engender trust with stakeholders and constituents and the need for a Defense in Depth approach to mitigating risk rather than relying solely on a ‘Silver Bullet” such as a vaccine to ‘solve’ the COVID problem. The report also included several COVID countermeasures such as masks and UV light and described how much risk-reduction various courses of action would provide. 
Dr. Bagian emphasized that evaluating your goals is a crucial first step to managing risk. When it comes to COVID he asked, “Is it our goal that no one gets infected? Or is our goal that no one ends up in the hospital, or that no one dies?” He emphasized that nothing is completely safe. The question becomes “how safe is safe enough?” For a more in-depth look at his views on this question, read his editorial “How Safe Is Safe Enough for Space and Health Care? Communication and Acceptance of Risk in the Real World” in JAMA.
Dr. Bagian will discuss risk and safety when he delivers the first seminar in our 2021 “Providing Better Healthcare through Systems Engineering” series on Monday, September 13th at 4:30 pm. His talk will be titled “How Safe Is Safe Enough: Analyzing Hazards and Risks in the Real World to Inform Decision Making.” The seminar will be held in IOE 1680 and will also be broadcast via Zoom. Learn more and RSVP here.

Recent News

Twitter Takeover Tuesday

This summer, CHEPS students are taking over our Twitter account @UofMCHEPS every Tuesday to share a day in the life of a CHEPSter. Here are our latest takeovers.

Ani Tweet
Ani Chatty’s Twitter Takeover
Meghana Tweet
Meghana Kandiraju’s Twitter Takeover
Nathan Tweet
Nathan Smith’s Twitter Takeover

CHEPS Student Blog Posts

CHEPS students blog to share life at CHEPS from the student perspective.

Surgical Competency Team Members“Being on this project for two years, it has definitely felt like we as students have a lot of say in the direction of the project. It has been incredibly fun to work with our clinical collaborators closely to have interesting discussions on what the next steps of this project are.”
– Fumiya Abe-Nornes from the Surgical Competency Team Blog


Center for Healthcare Engineering & Patient Safety | University of Michigan
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