How Can CLABSIs and Cucumbers Teach PDSA?

Image of still video clip on PDSA Cycles

Learning Objectives

At the end of this activity, you will be able to:

  • Explain the four stages of a PDSA cycle
  • Discuss why predictions are critical to PDSA cycles
  • Identify an appropriate scope for a PDSA cycle
  • Give an example of a PDSA cycle within health care


Don Goldmann, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at IHI, has led dozens of improvement projects throughout his career. He’s helped to reduce infection rates, decrease wait times, and improve communication among staff. He also likes growing cucumbers.

In a new IHI Open School Video Short, Goldmann explains the science behind the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. He uses central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) and cucumbers as his subjects. Why are predictions so important? What’s the ideal size for an initial PDSA cycle? How does Goldmann get from surgical drapes to garden trellises? Watch the video below to find out.

Browse more