Benefits of Involvement in a Patient Safety Organization: Q&A With Melinda Malecki of Cook County Health & Hospitals System

Melinda Malecki is system director of risk management for Cook County Health & Hospitals System based in Chicago. The organization recently joined the GE Healthcare Patient Safety Organization.

Q: Why did Cook County consider it important to join a PSO?

Melinda Malecki: Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS) has been dedicated to providing the best quality care for its patients for over 180 years. CCHHS joined the GE PSO in an effort to continue their increased emphasis on a culture of patient safety. Specifically, there are three elements of a PSO that really excite CCHHS:


  • Patient safety culture: Becoming a member of a PSO means emphasizing a patient safety culture across the organization. GE's PSO will help the CCHHS and other member hospitals support a work environment in which healthcare professionals are motivated to recognize, report and reform unsafe care practices by developing organizational consensus about what constitutes a medical error and replacing an overly punitive approach to error management with a system of positive reinforcement for safe behaviors. The ultimate goal is that the system can learn from the errors and make improvements that enable safer delivery of care throughout the institution.

  • Benchmarking: GE's PSO has members from many regions, specialties, and types of facilities working together to improve quality. This collaborative environment offers the ability for members to communicate with one another, access education, and leverage the patient safety expertise of the PSO. Strength in numbers leads to insights that can improve safety for your patients.

  • Proactive vs. reactive: The GE PSO's Medical Event Reporting System (MERS) enables hospitals to move from simply reporting adverse event to proactively addressing them. MERS is an invaluable tool for risk reduction and systematic quality improvement. This is essential to addressing the root causes of errors and never-events and making substantial, long lasting changes to the organization.

Q: How does Cook County expect the PSO to assist with its efforts to provide safe, high quality care?

MM: The GE PSO captures data through MERS, a single, common medical event reporting platform that enables significantly improved, rich and complete data capture.


From a local CCHHS perspective, MERS eliminates the need for our staff to manually complete and analyze reports. In a busy hospital, every minute counts. By having a simple user interface to work with, we anticipate seeing a significant increase in the overall frequency of reporting as well as time saved in the actual reporting and analyzing of the information. MERS produces real-time reports that will be used by management to address reported issues, real or near misses immediately, which will greatly improve the safety of our patients while also reducing unnecessary risk for the future.


From a national perspective, being part of the GE PSO enables Cook County to participate in a larger community of hospitals and health networks who are also dedicated to improving patient safety. This collaborative environment offers the ability for members to communicate with one another, access education, and leverage the patient safety expertise of the PSO. These insights will help Cook County make decisions that will provide safer, higher quality care to its patients.

Q: What are some of the improvement projects planned by Cook County that will utilize the resources of the PSO?

MM: Cook County is in the process of installing MERS and rolling out the training and governance structure to ensure wide adoption and success. The system is planned go-live in early December.


Once the system goes live and staff can start reporting into the system, management can begin analyzing the results and take the appropriate actions. We are very much looking forward to taking Cook County to the next level and making it an even safer place for our patients to receive care.

Learn more about CCHHS and GE PSO.

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