Harvard Business Review recognizes CIMA Hospital for protecting employees

This publication highlights a system that allows for tracking and analysis of work-related accidents

Hospital went from 60 work-related accidents annually five years ago, to just three in 2020

Karla Barquero karlabarquero.asesora@larepublica.net Monday 06 July 2020
Dr. Hugo Villegas

“Recognition is intangible but it instills pride and encourages us to move forward in communicating to staff so that all can recognize we are on the right path. Most importantly, this accomplishment means that our employees can feel safe—and safety allows them to continue to do an excellent job in caring for our patients,” said Dr. Hugo Villegas, Quality Manager at Hospital CIMA San Jose. Esteban Monge/La República.

The Harvard Business Review recently referred to Hospital CIMA San Jose’s work in preventing work-related accidents in an article entitled, “Health Workers Protect Us, It’s Time to Protect Them.

The publication uses the Costa Rican hospital as an example in the creation of processes that allow for transparency so that the organization can learn from each incident that occurs.

To achieve international acclaim, Hospital CIMA Hospital teamed up with Value Capture – a group founded by the former CEO of ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) – a global leader in worker safety practices – and five years the declaration was made to eliminate all accidents at work.

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To accomplish this precondition, CIMA developed measurements and established an adverse event / incident reporting system, which was praised by the prestigious journal.

“Every accident at work is immediately identified using an electronic system.  A report is created that described the unsafe condition in 24 hours we find out what happened and then figure out how to do to prevent it from reoccurring. That system helped us achieve a significant decrease in work-related accidents: five years ago we had approximately 60 work-related accidents per year and the number dropped to 30, then 10 cases, and so far in 2020 we have only had three accidents at work,” said Dr. Hugo Villegas, Quality Manager at CIMA Hospital.

The system reports not only accidents, but also their consequences; for this, it uses the methodology employed by the U.S. Department of Labor called DART that records the days away, restricted or transferred, a system

designed to track any workplace injury or illness that results in time away from work, restricted job roles, or an employee’s permanent transfer to a new position.

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Hospital CIMA’s DART reached 0.3% for every 100 full-time employees.

“Our surprise was that ALCOA achieved a DART of 0.4%, which placed us among the world’s leading companies in terms of employee safety in terms of preventing workplace accidents, and this improvement effort has been sustained over the last five years, resulting in a very low percentage of lost work days,” Villegas commented.

The automated incident reporting system not only produces a report, but it also allows Hospital CIMA’s Quality and Occupational Health Departments to carry a program called “Let’s Care for Everyone” involving all 425 workers at the Hospital.

“It’s putting a human face to the numbers. Employees who experience a work-related accident are not the only ones who suffer, but their entire immediate family and their dependents also suffer. Behind all those numbers are people and we must remember that that person could be me, and with that in mind we will work harder to protect against all unsafe conditions,” Villegas said.

When work-related accidents do occur, affected individuals have the full support of Hospital CIMA: the company doctors cares for them, if they need testing, depending on the condition, the case is referred to the consultation services of the country’s National Institute of Insurance (INS).

“During the treatment period we are informed on progress, how the patient is feeling, and we accompany them as much as possible throughout the recovery process until they return to work,” Villegas said.

When employees feel confident about their work environment, they are better able to serve their patients.

“Knowing that the odds of getting injured or ill at work and having to suffer the related consequences are low enough allows workers to dedicate their efforts to achieve the excellent care they normally provide, and this results in fewer errors, even taking into account the complexity associated with providing patient care,” he added.


On June 19, Harvard Business Review published the following regarding Hospital CIMA:

“Recently Hospital CIMA San Jose has reached a lost workday rate due to injury and illness that is lower than the previous global benchmark set by ALCOA.

When the Covid-19 threat emerged in February, CIMA leaders used the daily safety system to implement a comprehensive plan to protect staff.

The plan included training and observations in which colleagues observe each other’s work methods to strengthen processes for handling patient safely, using personal protective equipment appropriately, practicing safe hygiene, sterilizing rooms and equipment, and other behaviors.”