An OB Hospitalists Path to a Passion for Patient Safety

October 27, 2020 | by Audrey Carr
An OB Hospitalists Path to a Passion for Patient Safety

For Kathleen Horowitz, M.D., medicine runs in the family. Her father was a nephrologist, a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases, and as she was growing up, he joked about opening a father-daughter practice. But Dr. Horowitz instantly fell in love with obstetrics during her last rotation in medical school and knew that’s where she wanted to make her career. She says what initially drew her to the field was the obstetrician’s ability to treat a patient both medically and surgically, and she has loved it for the same reasons ever since.

Though she enjoys her field, Dr. Horowitz struggled to find a work-life balance while in private practice due to juggling a 60+ hour work week along with raising a family. Fortunately, an opportunity opened up at a local hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona, and she joined the MEDNAX team. Her talents were quickly recognized, and after only five years of being with the practice, she was asked to be the new director for the labor and delivery high reliability program. She acknowledges her time at MEDNAX for renewing her love and interest in medicine and, most importantly, opening up more opportunities to be involved in her children’s lives and schooling.

Practicing obstetrics in the “new normal”

Adjusting to the “new normal” has been unique for all of us, but especially as a physician. Dr. Horowitz laughs remembering the beginning stages of COVID-19 when her twelve-year-old son looked at her and said, “Wow, it must be really hard to be a doctor! You work a lot—especially in a pandemic!” A more difficult memory stems from another conversation with her son. When she returned from work every day, her son would ask if she saw any positive COVID-19 patients. For a while, her answer was fortunately “no,” but in time changed to “yes.” From that point, her son never asked the question again. Realizing the indirect impact this pandemic will have on her children is an unfortunate and challenging burden that comes with her career.

As our society continues the challenging transition to this “new normal,” Dr. Horowitz offers her advice to other parents to take things one day at a time. Through this experience, she’s learning a lot about gratitude, the importance of focusing on the ‘here and now,’ and only worrying about the things we can control in our lives. This drive to improve and find purpose in life has always been with her and has become extremely helpful in getting through difficult times like these. She also values the support from MEDNAX in helping adapt through their provision of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to her practice, plus clinical guidance and emotional support.

The Journey to Patient Safety

Throughout her career, Dr. Horowitz has developed a great passion for patient safety and even has the distinction of being a Certified Professional in Patient Safety. To obtain this accolade, she spent over three months working through the program and has put in countless hours of training and studying for the final examination. In conjunction with this, over the last year she has served as the Physician Chair for her hospital system’s committee for research, education, safety, and quality. Dr. Horowitz and her committee have worked together to develop and launch a simulation program at the hospital as a way to facilitate obstetrics safety drills covering practice areas such as postpartum hemorrhages, acute hypertensive episodes, and maternal codes. Although the exercises aren’t always run on common complications, she explains that they are still essential to do so her team can feel rehearsed and confident in their abilities when those problems do arise. If this program wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also recently helped launch MEDNAX's CREQS Labor and Delivery HRO patient safety program where she visits with hospitals to discuss ways to improve their unit’s safety and efficiency.

Overall, her work in patient safety has been a great opportunity not only to save lives but also to be more involved in planning in the labor and delivery unit, which has exposed her to more of the safety principles. For Dr. Horowitz, it’s an exciting cycle to participate in and lead.

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