Learning from experiences

When I think about the airline industry, aircraft carriers and nuclear power plants I think about high risk organizations that pride themselves in keeping safety as a number one priority. Why do we think healthcare should be any different? Providing health care is high risk but why don’t we collectively recognize this fact and take the appropriate steps to ensure that our patients are kept safe from our own hands and our own systems? Why as healthcare providers are we above learning from other high risk industries?

As doctors, I think we pride ourselves too much on our innovative minds and we have difficulty recognizing how much we can learn from other industries’ successes and failures. It’s easy to say that medicine is different and that others can’t begin to understand what we do, but we don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to patient safety and we certainly don’t have to practice 100% cookbook medicine to be highly reliable. It’s time we step up to the plate and begin to recognize our system flaws because we can only hide our mistakes for so long. Unfortunately, statistically, we will always have patients that die from complications but its incumbent upon us to avoid, at all costs, continuing to bury our mistakes and then never learn from them. We are doing ourselves and our future patients a huge disservice.