State of the Clinic: Cleveland Clinic CEO, President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., Reports Improved Patient Safety; Calls for Greater Transparency Industry-Wide

Dr. Mihaljevic highlighted “thriving” financial health, 2019 achievements

Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., Cleveland Clinic CEO and president, delivers the State of the Clinic address Feb. 26, 2020. (Photo: Willie McAllister Jr., Center for Medical Art & Photography)

As Cleveland Clinic nears its centennial in 2021, the hospital system is serving more patients and delivering safer outcomes than ever before, Cleveland Clinic CEO and President Tom Mihaljevic, M.D., said during today’s annual State of the Clinic address.

“Becoming the safest place for healthcare is a journey that never ends. It is not easy,” he told thousands of caregivers attending Wednesday morning’s address and watching remotely in Cleveland Clinic facilities throughout the United States and around the world. “Due to your hard work, I can stand before you and proudly say that Cleveland Clinic is a safer place today than a year ago.”

In 2019, the Cleveland Clinic health system decreased serious safety events during surgery by 46%. And between January 2017 and August 2019, Cleveland Clinic reduced central-line infections by 23%, sepsis mortality by 12%, and patient falls with injuries by 11%.

Overall, patients have a 34% greater chance of survival at Cleveland Clinic compared to the average U.S. hospital, according to Vizient.

Dr. Mihaljevic attributed the improvements to safety checklists performed before every procedure, daily huddles that address safety issues immediately, and a system-wide focus that empowers every caregiver to speak up when safety issues arise. He challenged the healthcare industry to increase transparency around serious safety events.

“We are one of the few health systems to publicly report serious safety events,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “I call on every healthcare organization to do the same, and for every rating organization to make it a requirement. We owe this to the patients and families who trust us with their care.”

In addition to patient safety, Dr. Mihaljevic discussed Cleveland Clinic’s strategy, goals, 2019 highlights, and financial well-being.

Last year, Cleveland Clinic’s operating revenue increased to $10.6 billion (an 18% increase), due to a record 2.4 million patients (a 20% increase) who accounted for 9.8 million visits (16% increase). In addition, finances were bolstered by a historic $261 million gift from the Lord Foundation of Ohio and a strong economy and investments.

“Cleveland Clinic is healthy and thriving,” Dr. Mihaljevic said. “This success allows us to reinvest in our mission, caregivers and communities.”

To continue the positive momentum, Cleveland Clinic’s strategic plan will focus on five goals: serving as lifelong partners to patients; engaging caregivers as members of teams; embracing digital tools to enhance the patient and caregiver experience; optimizing resources as stewards of the organization; and doubling the number of patients served.

The health system’s priorities will continue to be organized around four key areas:

  • Care for Patients, through improved safety and quality, better access, and continued investment in innovation, research and education, including tuition-free admission to the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
  • Care for Caregivers, through the Office of Caregiver Experience, improvements to the electronic medical record, an increased minimum wage of $15 per hour, and fully paid maternity and parental leave for eligible caregivers.
  • Care for the Organization, through expanded access to more patients around the world and as a leader in digital technology and virtual health.
  • Care for the Community, through initiatives to address public health challenges, including vaping, opioid addiction and infant mortality; an ongoing pledge as Ohio’s largest employer to hire job seekers from surrounding neighborhoods; and a community service time off program to encourage caregivers to volunteer. In 2019, Cleveland Clinic’s community benefit – which guarantees care for patients, regardless of their ability to pay – reached $1 billion.

Click on image to view/download State of the Clinic 2019 Report.

Other highlights covered during the State of the Clinic included:

  • Building projects occurring that will serve more patients in more places.
    • Construction of a new hospital in Mentor
    • Renovation and expansion of the Cole Eye Institute
    • Construction of a new, larger Neurological Institute building
    • Upgrade and expansion of Fairview Hospital
    • Construction of a seven-story cancer center at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
    • The opening of Cleveland Clinic London in the spring of 2021
  • 2019 clinical accomplishments included in-utero spina bifida surgery, uterine transplant, laparoscopic living liver donor transplant and robotic single-port kidney transplant. In 2020, a new Center for Immunotherapy and Precision Immuno-Oncology will develop personalized cancer treatments.
  • The health system added four hospitals and nearly 1,000 beds in Florida with the addition of Florida’s Cleveland Clinic Indian River and Cleveland Clinic Martin Health in January 2019.

In 2020 and beyond, Dr. Mihaljevic said Cleveland Clinic will continue to serve more patients in more locations.

“It is remarkable to consider how many patients do not have access to the best of healthcare. Only 1 in 200 Americans receive care at Cleveland Clinic,” he said. “Yet we know every person could benefit from the quality of care we provide. Therefore, it is our ethical obligation to serve as many patients as possible.”

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at and News and resources available at

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.