Pre- Telluride Post

“Why Every Medical Student Should Learn More about Patient Safety and The Telluride Experience”

Our healthcare system needs health care professionals who are well-versed in patient safety and communication issues, and most medical schools do not invest the time and money that is necessary to make this a reality.

Patient safety is integral to good patient care because if a patient is not safe, their health is at risk. Quality patient care ensures a patient’s wellbeing, and a lack of patient safety places this wellbeing at risk. Preventable medical errors can result in a prolonged hospital stay, permanent injury, or even death. The repercussions of these errors can cause billions of dollars of additional health care costs in our system. Furthermore, a prolonged hospital stay or death can result in a ripple effect which places immense stress on the patient and the patient’s family. Loss of independence and productivity can prevent the patient from returning to work in a timely manner. This can have financial ramifications on the patient’s family. If the patient needs a caregiver, this can also cause another family member to scale back their working hours in order to devote more time to caring for the patient, thus compounding the financial loss and stress for the family.

My personal experiences with our health care system have highlighted that many areas have plenty of room for improvement. For example, I have encountered simple mistakes like two different employees almost drawing blood twice for the same tests on a patient in one visit. My presence was the only reason this mistake was avoided when I alerted the second employee. This may highlight a small flaw in the system, but it is magnified when checks and balances are missing for something more important like administering a drug with a narrow therapeutic index. The health care workers may have no harmful intentions, but the system that is in place fails both the patient and provider.

When I learned about the Telluride Experience Sessions, I immediately knew that this would be an opportunity to learn crucial skills that I would not learn in a typical medical school environment. I’ve asked many residents and physicians where they learn about our nation’s healthcare system and policies, and most reply that medical schools mainly focus on the basic sciences and leave the students to fend for themselves on other topics. The Telluride Experience Session serves to overcome this gap in knowledge.  I chose to attend the Telluride Experience Session, because it will allow me to go beyond a typical basic sciences medical education and explore many patient safety issues on a more intricate level with a group of like-minded individuals. Together, we can identify the major issues surrounding patient safety, learn from them, and propose innovative solutions that will ultimately save lives. I hope that our passion for patient safety inspires our colleagues and classmates to place passion for quality health care over profit.