News Room

Dr. Salman Fidahussein honored with WellStar Quality and Safety Leaders Award

Mon, July 10, 2017

Dr. Salman Fidahussein honored with WellStar Quality and Safety Leaders Award

WellStar Health System has honored Dr. Salman Fidahussein with the WellStar Quality and Safety Leaders Award for creating and supporting safe, timely patient-centered initiatives that make WellStar a safer place to practice, work and receive care.

The award is presented twice a year during WellStar’s Medical Staff Leaders Retreat to an individual medical staff provider and/or team from each WellStar facility and the WellStar Medical Group. Dr. Fidahussein is a physician with WellStar Medical Group Pulmonary Medicine.

WGMC team members who nominated Dr. Fidahussein cited his implementation and leadership in developing an “ICU Liberation” program, a comprehensive lung-screening program, and a sepsis initiative.

Shortly after arriving at WGMC in 2015, Dr. Fidahussein began working with the hospital’s ICU/Step-Down unit nursing staff to develop an “ICU Liberation” program to encourage early mobilization of patients on a ventilator. That program has minimized post-intubation long-term complications and improved ventilator-free days.

“I am very humbled and honored,” Dr. Fidahussein said. “When I started this journey, I had no idea the impact this was going to make. I cannot explain how much I love and care about my ICU and my team. We can only make a difference as a team, and I am just a small part of that team.”

Thinking of a hospital patient on a ventilator brings to mind images of one being bedridden, possibly unable to walk or talk, and even a grim hope for the future.

But now in WGMC’s ICU, one may find a ventilator patient up and walking the halls with careful supervision — or even dancing with a nurse. Through Dr. Fidahussein’s leadership, the medical team has adopted evidence-based best practices compiled by the Society of Critical Care Medicine that embrace getting patients up and moving to improve their recovery.

Sue Brown, director of WGMC's ICU/Step-Down ICU— along with the many nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and pharmacists who became committed to embracing the principles of ICU Liberation — credit Dr. Fidahussein with leading them to the significant positive results they and their patients have achieved since launching the project.

“His leadership and passion in engaging us to change the culture of how we care for ventilator patients were remarkable,” Brown said. “He challenged us to think differently. Instead of thinking about why a ventilated patient shouldn’t get out of bed, he had us to begin thinking, ‘Why can’t we get this patient out of bed? What do we need to do to accomplish getting this patient out of bed?’”

The medical team also has studied changing the culture in the ICU to help avoid the physical, mental, emotional and post-traumatic stress that can be associated with being ventilated. The team addressed research and education, sedation, ventilation, rehabilitation, sleep and fewer restraints.

“What we have begun doing is not innovative,” Dr. Fidahussein said. “It’s the right thing to do in this day and age. ... The reason I went into critical care was to save people’s lives, but then I realized that surviving is not good enough. We used to pat ourselves on the back that we were able to get patients out of ICU, but we realized their battle really begins when they leave.

“Just surviving is not an option; they need to thrive.”

The ICU Liberation program was selected as a best practice that Ralph Duraski, WGMC’s director of pulmonary medicine, shared at a Quest Partnership for Patients breakout session in June at the Premier Annual Breakthroughs Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. Duraski presented information on ventilator-associated pneumonia, the impact of the ICU Liberation program, and continued best practices.