Sunday, October 20, 2013

Handling Medical Errors and Safety Science

In today's New York Times, there is a dialogue on how medical errors should be handled (NY Times link).


Paul Levy (former CEO of Beth Isreal Deaconess Hospital in Boston and author of Goal Play, highlighted previously in this blog) starts off with a brief story of a surgeon who operated on the wrong leg and then several people wrote in to react on how they handled it. What was great was to see the letter from a MedStar Georgetown University Hospital resident describing how MedStar celebrates 'good catches' (on how a medical error was prevented) each Monday. 

What was even more exciting was to then see the piece by our own Drs. Fairbanks and Mayer introducing data from safety science studies (many of which they are conducted at MedStar). In their words: The current health care focus on personal blame has been tried for decades and is not making us safer. Instead, we need to turn our approach upside-down and recognize that bright, well-educated, skilled and well-intentioned providers will make errors. To become safer, we need to allow discussion of these errors — to understand them, learn from them and redesign our systems to reduce their likelihood and mitigate their consequences.

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