Pre-Telluride Thoughts

Attending the Telluride Experience is important to me because I have only begun to scratch the surface of my interest in patient safety and quality improvement. Throughout my academic career, I was drawn to idea of applying science for the direct benefit of other people. I aspired to have a career at an academic institution that strove for innovation and inspiration, where I could fulfill my desire to contribute to the medical profession through extensive, meaningful, and pioneering research. As I progressed through my medical training, I began to realize how hospital staff were positioned to not only make contributions to the science of the specialties, but, more importantly, make substantial alterations to the course of clinical care across almost every medical specialty, especially when working in multidisciplinary teams.

My first foray into quality improvement occurred in the past year of my residency. Working with multiple radiology residents, emergency room physicians, nurses, and technicians, we sought to implement a more efficient standardized CT protocoling system for ED patients, minimize lag time between when a study is ordered and protocoled, and decrease unnecessary interruptions, thereby allowing residents to focus on reading studies to improve accuracy, decrease time to final report, and directly communicate with the clinicians. Together, we developed a 2-step Standardized ED CT Protocoling Guidance Sheet for common indications. After implementing the revised system, not only did radiology resident satisfaction increase, it improved the imaging workflow throughout the emergency department. However, the project also taught me many lessons about resistance to change and working with different members of the healthcare team toward a common goal. In addition, I learned the importance of constant feedback and revision, even after a change is implemented and adopted. These are skills that I hope to hone in the future, with the Telluride Experience being an excellent resource to help me accomplish that goal.

Patient safety is integral to good patient care because avoidable patient harm directly contradicts the mission of healthcare. The idea of non-maleficence is one of the principle precepts of bioethics and is part of the Hippocratic Oath that medical students are taught upon entering the profession. Patient safety endeavors seek to address a wide variety of harm to patients both while in the hospital and after discharge. However, one of the more seemingly low-lying fruits, avoidable medical errors, has proven surprisingly difficult to change over recent decades and will require a united effort from all healthcare workers to make a significant improvement. In addition, new advances in the field continue to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of patients, a trend which emphasizes the importance of continued reexamination of accepted practices and adapting to changes.

I look forward to meeting everyone at the Telluride Experience and the opportunity for networking! I’m also excited at the prospect of gaining tools to bring back with me in order to inspire and implement positive change.