Former NASA physician/astronaut discusses protocols for patient safety

Physician and former NASA astronaut James Bagian, M.D., P.E., spoke during ViJay Babu Rayudu Quality Patient Safety Day at the School of Medicine.
Physician and former NASA astronaut James Bagian, M.D., P.E., spoke during Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality Patient and Safety Day at the School of Medicine.

James P. Bagian, M.D., P.E., a physician who developed a program to protect patients from hospital-based harm and a former NASA astronaut who flew two space shuttle missions, presented the keynote address on May 13 at the third annual Vijay Babu Rayudu Quality and Patient Safety Day.

The day-long event gave students, residents, fellows and faculty an opportunity to present their research and learn from experts in the field of patient safety. Following Bagian’s presentation, students and residents gave oral presentations on their work, and presented research posters in the School of Medicine lobby.

Bagian spoke on the need and process for developing and implementing proper procedures to improve patient safety. Currently the director of Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety at the University of Michigan, Bagian focuses on creating solutions to make health care safer, more effective and more efficient.

Bagian was named one of 50 experts leading the field of patient safety by Becker’s Hospital Review.

He served as the founding director of the Department of Veteran Affairs National Center for Patient Safety and was the first chief patient safety officer for the VA, where he developed numerous patient safety tools that have been adopted nationally and internationally. Bagian received the Innovations in American Government Award in 2001 from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard for his national program to protect patients from hospital-based harm.

During his 15-year career with NASA, Bagain was the first physician to successfully treat space motion sickness. His approach is now the standard of care for astronauts. He developed a high-altitude pressure suit and other crew survival equipment, and has served as an investigator and medical consultant on two space shuttle accident investigations.

Bagain has led efforts in standardizing pre-hospital combat rescue medical care across all major U.S. Air Force commands and is a founding member of a Department of Defense committee on casualty care that has reduced the mortality rate of service members injured in battle.

Quality and Patient Safety Day is an annual event at the School of Medicine. It it established in memory of Vijay Babu Rayudu, a former student who died in 2007.