The 2018 Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Award Winners

Each year the Lewis Blackman Awards honor patient safety champions in South Carolina hospitals and health systems who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure quality care.

The Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Awards are named in honor of Lewis Wardlaw Blackman, a bright, gifted 15-year-old who died following an elective surgical procedure in 2000 due to complications related to a medical error. Helen Haskell, Lewis’s mother, has provided inspiration for the awards through her tireless and meaningful work to promote patient safety and quality improvement not only in South Carolina but throughout the country.

Award winners were recognized at a special luncheon on April 10 during the Transforming Health Symposium at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. We are proud to present the 2018 Lewis Blackman Award winners:

Healthcare Executive Award: Gene Dickerson, MD is the Physician Executive of Palmetto Health Tuomey in Sumter, SC. When central-line associated blood stream infection rates rose in 2016, Dr. Dickerson led a successful a rapid-response, multidisciplinary team tasked with reporting, investigating and preventing future infections that resulted in a 52% reduction in infections the following year. He previously formed a similar team to increase compliance in venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment in 2013.

Caregiver Award: Sarah Yale, MD is the pediatric chief resident at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC, where she has led a residency-wide improvement project for event reporting. Over the last three years, resident reporting of errors and hazardous conditions has increased from 33 incidents before Yale’s project to over 1300 in 2017. Yale has also been a champion of patient safety in numerous workgroups and the adverse drug events committee.

Innovations & Research Award: Hugh Welch is a Process Improvement Consultant in Quality Management at Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, SC. Since assuming his position in 2016, Mr. Welch has developed an Emergency Department Patient Flow Tool to take advantage of new analytical tools and eliminate manual data gathering. The Tool has helped reduce ED wait times by 42%. This approach has been adapted as a best practice throughout the VA Southeast Network and is being examined for national implementation. He has also developed specific improvement metrics for other issues, including avoidable adverse events, care transitions, mortality and intra-ward transfers, mental health and social work. 

Patient Advocate Award: Lisa McGiffert is a long-time patient safety advocate for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. As the creator and director of the Consumers Union Stop Hospital Infections campaign in 2002, she led one of the most significant initiatives in American healthcare safety, the campaign for hospital-acquired infection disclosure laws. These laws, which eventually passed in the majority of American states including South Carolina, were the precursor to the Medicare Hospital Compare data now made public annually. In addition to supporting the campaign for such laws in the state, McGiffert has also helped South Carolina healthcare consumers gain representation on national committees at agencies like the National Quality Forum, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 

Student Award: Rachel Mole is a third semester nursing student in the Associate Nursing program at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort, SC. Ms. Mole led by example by attentively responding to a patient’s explanation of symptoms that led to the diagnosis of a large deep vein thrombosis in the patient’s arm. By listening carefully and thoroughly completing her assessment, Mole improved her patient’s outcome and quality of life while preventing further complications. 

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Lewis Blackman Awards. We are proud to honor these leaders in improving the quality and safety of health care in South Carolina and beyond.