CHANGING THE NARRATIVE: Asking for help is not weakness- My Telluride experience Day 1

It was a beautiful morning in the Rocky Mountains, the morning sun was shining brilliantly on the beautiful snow crowned majestic mountains. I was suspended several feet above ground in a Gondola and in awe of nature below me. I was not alone, I had company. I was sharing the ride with 3 new friends I had just made the night before.  We were headed somewhere down the mountains on a mission. Our mission, learn skills at the academy for emerging leaders in patient safety. We have been tasked with saving ourselves and colleagues from the downward spiral of unsafe health system.

I was excited to have been accepted to attend the 2016 Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety summer camp for residents. It was very refreshing to meet residents from across the nation passionate about patient safety and taking on leadership roles to change the culture of patient safety in their institutions and in their medical careers. It was even more amazing to meet and interact with the faculty- David Mayer, Anne Gunderson, David Classen, Katty, John Nance, Dan and Roger. I was challenged by their passion and the fact that they “walked the talk”.

Day 1 met my expectations, there were key learning points and passionate discussions and exchanges. The passion in the residents was palpable in the room. As I reflected on all the days’ events, discussion topics, the Lewis Blackman story, the IOM report; it stroke me that the aviation industry has made air travel safer in the 21 century while medical errors still accounted for close to half a million deaths in the United States alone, imagine what the number would be globally. As Physicians are we doing more harm contrary to the oath we swore- “first do no harm”?  I summed up my thoughts that patient safety is paramount and as a Physician it is always appropriate to ask for help, as this does not indicate weakness, even from patient families. As we forge ahead with the battle ahead to change the current culture every stake holder- physician, nurse, ancillary staff, C-suite and other administrators should realize “patient safety is not just a legal problem but also a financial problem”- David Classen.

Looking forward to another day in the Rocky Mountains and the “Ah aha” moments.

-Ebenezer Oni