Here’s How Toyota’s Production Process Helped Save Young Lives

Posted at Fri, Oct 13, 2017 10:00 AM

While Toyota might be a brand best known for shattering the status quo and bringing innovation to the automotive world, the truth of the matter is that this automaker is also leveraging its considerable resources and cutting edge approach to help tackle much larger problems. The latest example of this process in action? The work done by Toyota’s Production System Support Center (TSSC) to utilize the brand's accumulated knowledge from decades of automotive manufacturing to help pediatric hospitals in a surprising way.

Interested in learning how the team behind TSSC helped to revolutionize daily routines and save young lives? Then follow along as the team here at Westbury Toyota details not only the amazing work done by these men and women, but also how their effort and dedication helped protect and secure countless young patients from entirely avoidable bloodstream infections.

Understanding the Issue

Young patients were contracting a certain kind of infection: Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections, more commonly known as CLABSIs. As detailed by Dan Miller of Toyota Driver’s Seat, the occurrence of this infection was happening far too often despite the strict hygiene regimens at each hospital, making it even more difficult to pinpoint the cause.

"According to a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, approximately 250,000 CLABSIs occur annually at hospitals across the country. These infections are serious but often can be treated successfully. However, such countermeasures cost more than $6 billion annually, according to a study published in the Journal of Infusion Nursing."
- Dan Miller, Toyota Driver’s Seat

For children who are already very sick, getting this infection could potentially turn a bad situation into one even worse, putting even more unnecessary strain on the patient as well as their families. This caught the attention of the TSSC team, who were determined to work with pediatric hospitals to try and figure out the cause of the frequent CLABSIs – and, more importantly, put an end to it.

Cooperation Saves Lives

In 2016, Scott Dickson, a 15-year Toyota employee with five years of TSSC experience under his belt, began working in partnership with four pediatric hospitals across America. Dickson began to carefully interview staff and observe everyday routines, making sure to detail everything in notes. After a time, the TSSC was finally able to identify the problem. The issue wasn’t in the hygiene protocols of the hospitals, but instead in the rooms where the children were being treated. A sterilized device being used for treatment could sometimes be placed on a surface that wasn’t sterile, leading to the infections.

Drawing on Experience to Solve the Problem

Once the root of the CLABSis problem was identified, it was time for the TSSC to apply their strategies in order to correct the issue. By implementing standardization fundamentals for everyone who interacted with pediatric patients, the TSSC was able outline comprehensive steps to follow. One of the major steps was to start using sterile pads on all surfaces that were previously unsterile as a protection method. Any devices or equipment used on a patient was placed on a sterile pad before or after use, significantly lowering the chances of infections being spread.

In total, the TSSC’s systematic approach to solving the problem, which drew heavily on the concepts of Toyota's "lean" manufacturing principles that seek to elimate waste and inefficiency ("Muda"), offered up a completely different perspective on the issue, thereby paving the way for a cooperative response, better operational processes, and (most importantly) fewer life-threatening infection incidents.

The End Result

As Andrew Clark of the National Association of Manufacturers explains, more than a year after Dickson and the TSSC introduced their Toyota-driven strategy to combat the high number of CLABSis, the infection occurrences went down more than 75 percent. While both sides were happy with the progress, the ultimate goal is to see a total elimination of CLABSis across the board.

“Toyota’s work has helped reduce CLABSIs infections in those four hospitals by 75 percent over the past year, surpassing its goal, and the hospital staff are using Toyota’s practices to isolate and solve other problems on their own.”
- Andrew Clark, The National Association of Manufacturers

Toyota is dedicated to working together with other organizations to not just improve management practices, production, and future technologies, but to also do whatever it can to improve the quality of life for pediatric patients and those in need of lifesaving service and support.. Being able to reduce the number of CLABSis is an indicator of just what that cooperation, along with the knowledge the TSSC has garnered from years of design and production experience, can do not only for businesses, but for the general well-being of other people. It’s an achievement that many are extremely proud of, including all of us here at Westbury Toyota.

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