FREELAND, MICHIGAN, April 6, 2021 – As part of a broad effort to advance patient safety in the region, the THRIVE Patient Safety Taskforce announced that the first year of Zero Harm metrics is now available from regional health systems comparing our local data to nationally benchmarked information on patient outcomes and harm.

The goal for Zero Harm was established from the findings of a 2016 study at Johns Hopkins which indicated that an estimated 250,000 deaths per year occur in the United States and can be attributed to medical error, ranking as the third leading cause of death nationally.

The healthcare systems in the Great Lakes Bay Region have been working for decades to eliminate medical error, yet the data from Johns Hopkins served as a reminder that medical error is a serious concern.

Together, hospital systems and partner organizations signed the Statement of Public Commitment to Zero Harm in May 2020 during THRIVE’s event All of Us Together – Driving Health and Economic Success featuring the U.S. Surgeon General, VADM (Vice Admiral) Jerome M. Adams. This agreement was the start of a five-year effort to achieve Zero Harm healthcare in the region by 2025.

The Johns Hopkins data, when applied to the region, would suggest that somewhere between 300-700 deaths occur annually due to medical error. THRIVE’s Patient Safety Taskforce went one step further to understand all harm caused by medical error, not just the number of deaths. Findings from the 2019 data show the following metrics for the region, based on hospitalized patients from the following four acute care health systems: Ascension St. Mary’s, Covenant HealthCare, McLaren Bay Region, MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. 

Total Harm Events in Calendar Year 2019: 484 (with breakdown as follows):

Mild or Minimum Temporary Harm: 401

Moderate Temporary or Permanent Harm: 52

Severe Temporary or Permanent Harm: 26

Death: 5

“The public reporting of this data speaks to the deep commitment and continued action that our healthcare systems in the region are taking to ensure that each and every interaction within our health systems prioritize patient safety,” said Dr. Sasha Savage, chief health officer for THRIVE. “This initial report for hospital-based errors represents several years of work in process improvement and education to reduce healthcare harm and we look forward to working together to achieve Zero Harm for the region.” 

More information and commentary about this effort is available from THRIVE leadership and all local health systems here.

“We are impressed and grateful to the healthcare systems for their commitment to Zero Harm and sharing the initial year of data. Through the THRIVE Patient Safety Task Force we see value in addressing healthcare harm locally,” said Beth Sorenson Prince, CEO of MiHIA. “With THRIVE, we continue to track and report several aspects of reducing potential healthcare harm including medication safety for seniors, equipping new mothers with resources that support families and much more.”





THRIVE (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy) is an unprecedented effort facilitated by the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA) and the Great Lakes Regional Alliance with a dual focus on creating sustained economic growth and improved health for the entire community through valued partnerships within the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Established in 2017, THRIVE recognizes that vibrant communities are comprised of healthy and productive people who are essential to creating a robust economy. In that effort, THRIVE focuses on a balanced portfolio of 34 evidence-based interventions for delivering improved population health and long-term system change at scale.

More information is available at 

About the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance

The mission of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is to encourage, support and celebrate regional collaboration and initiatives that will improve the economic vitality and quality of life in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance is comprised of 40+ board members who represent various organizations across Bay, Isabella, Midland and Saginaw Counties. 

More information is available at

About MiHIA

The Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) is a 501(c)3 focused on achieving sustainable system change and improved health outcomes of people within a 14-county region in central Michigan. MiHIA focuses on improving health within our region through a comprehensive focus on population health, patient experience and cost of care. Founded in 2007, MiHIA functions as an integrator or backbone organization to guide the health ecosystem at a regional level, accelerate competitive advantage, foster long-term sustainability and enhance the existing efforts of its valued partners.

More information is available at


Great Lakes Bay Region Safety Data Q&A

What is included in the data of healthcare harm noted here?

This data is from the four acute care health systems (Ascension St. Mary’s, Covenant, McLaren Bay Region, MidMichigan Midland) only and it only represents harm within the context of hospitalization. This data does not include all of the healthcare delivery system sources.

Does this data include all the types of healthcare harm that could be happening?

No, these numbers are only the results of standard tracking systems for hospital-based errors that lead to harm. They do not include harm which may have occurred but would not be captured by these reporting systems. For example, this data does not include diagnostic errors which can be up to 40% of healthcare harm cases by some estimates. As noted in question 1, it also does not include healthcare harm that might occur in ambulatory care or in extended care facilities.

Is this data consistent with the research showing healthcare harm to be the third leading cause of death?

This data is a piece of the story for our region. It is an honest and accurate summary of the healthcare harm tracked with standard hospital-based tracking systems and processes. There are other sources of harm as noted in questions 1 and 2 which will not be in this summary. Studies which have demonstrated healthcare harm as the third leading cause of death collect that data from tracking systems and exhaustive examination of medical records which cover the entire healthcare delivery ecosystem.

How will we know if there is progress in reducing healthcare harm in our region given the pledge for zero harm?

First of all, we will continue to track and report the hospital-based harm and the trend will be clear. Second, we are taking on major areas which contribute to healthcare harm. In addition, we are tackling medication safety for seniors. We will be tracking the baseline and improvements on this project in medication safety and harm. This and other projects will give specific data and will allow tracking of improvement.

What can patients and families do to help reduce their chances of experiencing healthcare harm?

Patients and their families have a major role in reducing harm. Their input into their care is very important. Their information shared with healthcare providers helps get accurate diagnosis and manage treatment plans. Patients and families need to ask questions and pay attention since they will be able to catch things that could lead to harm through their involvement in the care. The general advice for patients is that Questions are the Answer!

What is the difference between the different levels of harmful events?

A full description and definition of harm levels with examples can be found here.