Leadership Through Organizational High Reliability During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Navy Medicine’s Experience

Bruce L. Gillingham, MD, CPE, FAOA, FAAOS
Denver L. Applehans, MA

May 8, 2022
Physician Leadership Journal
Volume 9, Number 3, Pages 16-22


The U.S. Navy medical establishment, also known as Navy Medicine, began working toward operating as a high-reliability organization in 2014. The results have paid dividends in the current COVID-19 pandemic. This article provides a case study of the use of high-reliability organization (HRO) principles to support continued health of U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps operational forces in a pandemic. The authors provide examples of how adherence to the five traits of an HRO allowed Navy Medicine to be agile and responsive and ultimately to prevent significant disruption to Naval operations worldwide during the pandemic.

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