Day 1: A Balancing Act

Day #1 exceeded all expectations. I really did not know what to expect going into my first day of the Telluride Experience, but the presenters, topics and exercises managed to be better than I had anticipated and served to further galvanize my future career plans in the patient safety realm.

Our day began with the Lewis Blackman story. Though I had seen the film before in my medical training, today’s viewing was different. Having Helen Haskell present to provide context and answer questions finally made it real to me – it made it feel more personal. Sometimes, in our daily grind we fail to notice or minimize the importance and real-life consequences of our actions. Lewis was a real person, had real potential and had suffered real harm at the hands of the medical community. Medical mindfulness may have allowed Lewis to achieve his true potential in life.

Mindfulness was my overall ‘take-home’ theme for today. It is something that has been reinforced throughout my training, but is something that can be easily overrode through automated, everyday tasks and thinking. Lewis’ story is unfortunately not unique and illustrates the imperfect and complicated world in which we practice medicine. His case illustrated perfectly the biases, premature closure and diagnostic momentum that impact so many patients’ lives. While, diagnostic errors will likely never be eliminated altogether, providers must work hard avoid errors through actively revising diagnostic conclusions to avoid anchoring. We must also support these same providers with a robust system that allows them to succeed and one which fosters a culture of safety.

The Teeter-totter exercise was something that incorporated many of these concepts and reinforced the importance of strong leadership, collaboration, effective communication and effective resource and time management. The exercise served to reinforce the ‘balancing act’ of simultaneously providing high-quality, highly-reliable care in a safe and time-efficient manner. Though our initial attempt was somewhat unsuccessful, we persevered and were flawless in our second attempt with improved teamwork, communication and leadership.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings.