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The numbers are now widely known. In the ten years since the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published the staggering figure of patient deaths resulting from medical errors in To Err Is Human, health professionals all over the world have conducted pioneering and innovative work to reduce adverse medical events and eliminate the harm they cause. Though recognition of these errors has increased, they are still far too common.


To respond to this need within Denmark, in 2007 TrygFonden (TF) and the Danish Society for Patient Safety (DSFP) launched Operation Life, a national patient safety campaign to further improve the quality and safety of care for patients in Danish hospitals.


Operation Life was born with a sense of urgency to prevent deaths in all Danish hospitals through the implementation of six clinical interventions (VAP Bundle, CLI Bundle, AMI Bundle, Sepsis, Medicine Reconciliation, & Rapid Response Teams), and aimed to engage all regions of the health care system and prevent 3,000 deaths.


To capitalize on this active and successful national campaign, DSFP, TF, and the Danish Regions (DR) have asked the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to help design and in partnership, implement a programme that builds on the Danish values of inclusiveness, equality, and transparency that typify the work of Operation Life and achieves the following objectives:

  • Realize new levels of performance in safety in five hospitals that will serve as exemplars for the public hospitals in Denmark;

  • Create an opportunity for all interested public hospitals in the regions to be actively involved in quality and patient safety improvements;

  • Further develop a quality and patient safety focused culture; and

  • Build long-term expertise, sustainability, and capability to support improvements and safety in Danish hospitals.


Large-scale national improvement efforts such as Operation Life in Denmark, IHI’s 100,000 Lives and 5 Million Lives Campaigns in the US, the Safer Patient Initiative and the Scottish Patient Safety Programme addressed important portfolios of changes, mainly focused on safety improvements (i.e., reducing needless deaths and injuries in care). These initiatives have shown that this work can both succeed, and provide a blueprint for total system transformation within hospitals.