Pre-Telluride Post: Ensuring Future Patients Are Safe in My Care

I chose to attend the Telluride Experience because I wanted to learn more about what constitutes patient safety from a personal, everyday practice, viewpoint and how I can build and incorporate good habits that will shape my future career into a patient-centered care, before I unknowingly adopt loose habits that more easily enable harmful errors to slip by. In other words, I am seeking to learn how to ensure my future patients are safe from common medical errors that every physician is prone to making because, for some reason, it is an underrepresented topic in many medical school’s curriculum. I have a basic understanding of what patient safety is from the outside looking in, and I understand that the root cause of many preventable mishaps that lead to serious harm can be traced back to an error in the larger, overall system. However, I am seeking to expand my knowledge on what protecting patients from common medical errors can look like at an everyday level. I want to learn how to stay conscious and be cognitive of those common errors every day in order to protect a large number of patients. I also want to discover more active ways of protecting our patients from ourselves. Rather than just being passively conscious of things that could go wrong and attempting to reduce their occurrences, I want to discover proactive ways physicians can practice that not only prevent errors from occurring and harming their own patients, but also ways to reverse some of the systemic errors that have been causing harm to a larger population of patients.

Patient safety is integral to good patient care because we must remember that, as a physician, we are tasked with healing, as well as, doing no harm. Patient safety must be the highest priority if we want to accomplish both of those goals. I believe that some physicians may have started focusing too much on textbook healing without remembering the responsibility we have to do no harm. Textbook healing focuses on understanding physiology to fight diseases and cure pathologies, but it often leaves out the larger picture and context of where the disease is, the patient. If we focus too much on fighting the disease without remembering the patient, whom the disease is residing in, we sacrifice the patient’s safety in order to gain more ground on the disease itself. When we let this occur, we often cure the chief complaint, but, at the expense of leaving a massive negative impact on the rest of the patient’s life they have to live. I think we must keep patient safety in mind when discussing what actual ‘good patient care’ is because, if we don’t, the fast paced and money driven world we live in may begin to engulf and redefine the phrase, leaving the patient and their future livelihood behind.