Robert Wachter MD | UCSF Chairman of the Department of Medicine and chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine.

Robert Wachter MD

UCSF Chairman of the Department of Medicine and chief of the Division of Hospital Medicine.

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San Francisco, CA, US

Robert Wachter MD

Robert M. Wachter, MD is Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he directs the 60-physician Division of Hospital Medicine. Author of 250 articles and 6 books, he coined the term "hospitalist" in 1996 and is generally considered the "father" of the hospitalist field, the fastest growing specialty in the history of modern medicine. He is past president of the Society of Hospital Medicine, and is currently the chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine.

In the safety and quality arenas, he edits the US government's two leading websites on safety (they receive about one million yearly visits) and has written two bestselling books on the subject, including Understanding Patient Safety, whose 2nd edition was published in 2012. In 2004, he received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation's top honor in patient safety. For the past five years, Modern Healthcare magazine has named him one of the 50 most influential physician-executives in the U.S. (#14 in 2012). He has served on the healthcare advisory boards of several companies, including Google. His blog,, is one of the nation's most popular healthcare blogs. In 2011, he studied patient safety and hospital medicine at Imperial College London as a Fulbright Scholar.

Robert Wachter MD
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Current: Robert Wachter

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Robert Wachter MD
Featured Keynote Programs

“The Quality, Safety, and Value Movements
Why Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare is No Longer Elective.”

In this talk, I review the brief history of the quality and safety movements, the new push for “value” (quality + safety + patient satisfaction divided by cost), and how all of these levers (accreditation, regulation, transparency, payment changes) are combining to create unprecedented pressure on caregivers and delivery organizations to change their ways of doing business. Rather than being depressed, audiences leave with a deep understanding of healthcare’s new landscape, and a roadmap (and some optimism) for success in this new world.

“What We Need to Know and Do to Cure our Epidemic of Medical Mistakes.”

A case- based, dramatic talk that describes a new way to think about medical errors. It is the Cliff Notes version of my bestselling books, Internal Bleeding and Understanding Patient Safety. The talk is suitable for novices, experts, and even lay audiences.

Related reading:
a. Wachter RM, Shojania KG. Internal Bleeding: The Truth Behind America’s Terrifying Epidemic of Medical Mistakes. New York: Rugged Land, 2004.
b. Wachter RM. Understanding Patient Safety, 2nd Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012.

“Patient Safety a Decade after the IOM Report on Medical Errors
Unmistakable Progress and Troubling Gaps.”

A more policy-oriented talk than #1; more appropriate for advanced audiences (ie, leaders in quality and safety). The talk chronicles what is and is not working (regulation, IT, reporting, accountability, etc.) in our efforts to prevent medical mistakes.

Related reading: Wachter RM. Patient safety at ten: Unmistakable progress, troubling gaps. Health Affairs 2010;29:165-73. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

Wachter RM, Pronovost PJ. Balancing “no blame” and accountability in patient safety. New England Journal of Medicine 2009; 361:1401-6.

“The ‘Great Physician’ of 2012
Embracing the New Without Abandoning the Good Parts of the Old.”

The pressures to mint a new type of physician – one more focused on teamwork and systems – are strong and largely correct. In this talk, I review why it is critical that physicians embrace these new skills and attitudes, but I also highlight some of the unanticipated and potentially negative consequences of an unbalanced move away from the traditional emphasis on individual excellence.

Related reading: Wachter RM. Gregory House, MD, RIP. USA Today, May 22, 2012.

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