College of Arts and Sciences
Peter Pronovost, MD
Senior Vice President for Clinical Strategy, UnitedHealthcare
Peter Pronovost, MD, is a world-renowned patient safety champion, a practicing clinical care physician, a prolific researcher, and a global thought leader. He served as the director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety from 2011 to 2018, until earlier this year when he began working as senior vice president for clinical strategy at UnitedHealthcare.
Dr. Pronovost is one of the world’s leading authorities on patient safety, having developed a scientifically proven method for reducing the deadly infections associated with central line catheters. His scientific work leveraging checklists to reduce catheter-related bloodstream infections has saved thousands of lives and earned him high-profile accolades. Many states across the country have implemented this life-saving intervention.
In his book Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals: How One Doctor’s Checklist Can Help Us Change Health Care from the Inside Out, Dr. Pronovost chronicled his work in helping improve patient safety. In the book, he details how he created and broadly implemented a simple doctor’s checklist, despite significant cultural challenges. This checklist outlined five basic steps for doctors to follow and empowered nurses to challenge and call out to doctors if they skipped a step. He also encouraged nurses, patients, and families to question physicians to ensure they use the checklist. These programs virtually eliminated catheter-related infections at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Pronovost then spread the program state by state across the U.S. and in several other countries. As a result, those infections that used to kill more people than breast or prostate cancer have been reduced by 80 percent in places where the program has been implemented.
Dr. Pronovost has led programs to reduce other harms and developed a governance, leadership, and management system to help health systems eliminate all harms. In addition, he has written more than 800 articles and chapters related to patient safety and the measurement and evaluation of patient safety efforts.
Dr. Pronovost is the winner of several national awards, including the 2004 John Eisenberg Patient Safety Research Award, a coveted MacArthur Fellowship in 2008, and the 2017 David E. Rogers Award from the American Association of Medical Colleges. Time magazine named him one of the 100 “most influential people” in the world for his work in patient safety. He is an advisor to the World Health Organization’s World Alliance for Patient Safety and regularly addresses Congress on patient safety issues. He also writes a column for the Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report.
Dr. Pronovost earned his MD at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He also held faculty appointments in the schools of medicine, nursing, public health, engineering, and business.
Embodying a core Jesuit value of being a person for others, Dr. Pronovost is dedicated to making hospitals and health care safer for patients. His patient-centered approach to care and his deep clinical expertise bring a value-based approach to the patient experience.