MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2008

Peter Pronovost

Critical Care Physician

Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Quality and Safety Research Group, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Baltimore, Maryland

Age: 43 at time of award

Published January 27, 2008

Peter Pronovost is a critical care physician who devises life-saving clinical practices that are dramatically improving patient safety in hospitals across the United States. Both a clinician and an academic researcher, he takes scientific evidence to the bedside and motivates health care professionals in large health systems — including hospital CEOs, intensive care specialists, residents, nurses, and other health care staff — to change the culture of their institutions in the interest of reducing the risk of medical errors and hospital-acquired infections. One of his most notable contributions to date resulted from his focus on bloodstream infections from central venous catheters used in intensive care units (ICUs). To address this all-too-common problem, responsible for thousands of deaths each year, Pronovost culled lengthy guidelines into a simple checklist of five precautionary steps and tested its efficacy through a cohort study conducted in ICUs throughout the state of Michigan. Pronovost’s checklist intervention yielded a significant and sizable decrease in rates of infection and is currently being replicated by hospitals across the U.S. and Europe. Other projects under way include the development of a web-based ICU safety reporting system, methods for minimizing the incidence of aspiration pneumonia and acute lung injury in patients receiving ventilator assistance, and quality care measures for patients suffering from severe sepsis. By rigorously evaluating and skillfully implementing effective safety procedures, Pronovost is sparing countless lives from the often deadly consequences of human error and setting new standards of health care performance in the United States and internationally.

Peter Pronovost received a B.S. (1987) from Fairfield University, an M.D. (1991) from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a Ph.D. (1999) from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he holds an additional appointment in the Department of Surgery. Pronovost also serves as director of the Johns Hopkins-affiliated Quality and Safety Research Group.


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