How Can CLABSIs and Cucumbers Teach PDSA?

 Don Goldmann, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, Institute for Healthcare Improvement​

Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.
Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Explain the four stages of a PDSA cycle.
  • Discuss why predictions are critical to PDSA cycles.
  • Identify an appropriate scope for a PDSA cycle.
  • Give an example of a PDSA cycle within health care.
Description: Don Goldmann, MD, the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at IHI, has led dozens of improvement projects throughout his career. He’s helped to reduce infection rates, decrease wait times, and improve communication among staff. He also likes growing cucumbers.

In a new IHI Open School Video Short, Goldmann explains the science behind the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, using central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and cucumbers as his subjects. Why are predictions so important? What’s the ideal size for an initial PDSA cycle? How does Goldmann get from surgical drapes to garden trellises? Watch the video below to find out.

Discussion Questions:
  1. In the example about CLABSIs, what would be a reasonable next PDSA cycle?
  2. What PDSA cycles do you use in your daily work, even if that’s not the name you use for them?
  3. What’s the value of a failed PDSA cycle?
  4. Think about the last PDSA cycle you ran in your personal life — even if you didn't know it was a PDSA cycle at the time. Was it successful? Why or why not?
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