Stories can be great agents of change. As an internist, my day is spent hearing and telling stories– presenting a patient to an attending or a consultant is telling a story. Making a diagnosis is telling a story whose background, characters, and plot center around the central theme of a certain diagnosis. We are comfortable with these stories, we expect them to be told in a certain way, and we usually don’t expect too many surprises.
Patient safety happens in stories too. Too often, however, instead of ending with “the diagnosis was X so the patient was treated with Y,” these stories end in disappointment, sadness, fear, or anger. In day to day medicine, we often remove ourselves from the emotion of the events and stories unfolding in front of us. But when it comes to stories of patient safety, that emotion is unavoidable since we as providers are central characters in that patient story.
The patient safety stories of the first day at TPSSC allowed us to talk openly and frankly about issues of safety and systems improvement. The biggest thing I hope to bring home from today is actually what the day opened with– a safety moment. Take 5 minutes out of morning report or educational conference to tell a story of a patient safety issue, even if minor. These stories stick, and in the end, may lead to more of a culture of safety for those around us.