Reflection: Maryland/DC session Day 2

Patient engagement is crucial for helping patients to make informed decisions about their own healthcare. Transparency in communication through full disclosure of risks and adverse events will help improve patient outcomes and deliver patient centered care.

The second day at the Maryland/DC session was engaging and focused on some patient safety issues for providers to consider. The first half was on the importance of informed consent and shared decision making. The Michael Skolnik story and Lewis Blackman story shed light on the failures of medical staff to focus on the patients’ needs, values, preferences and goals. The main takeaway from the film discussion was that shared decision making is not an event, but a process. One single medication error may or may not result in patient harm, but almost all medication errors are considered as preventable with proper information sharing. It is also important for the medical staff to to inform patients of the risks and benefits associated with the procedure and the risks of doing nothing. This extra effort of encouraging the patients to ask questions and seek second opinion would help provide quality care. Healthcare organizations need to learn from their experiences of clinical risk and patient harm to prevent recurrence in the population.

The afternoon session on inter-professional teams highlighted some common barriers to effective communication between nurses and physicians. Communication within and between these teams is an integral component of the care delivery processes. But status hierarchy in field of healthcare and medicine, makes it difficult for the professionals to overcome professional boundaries and collaborate for learning. Efficient reporting of safety and quality concerns and transparency in communication between the team members would help improve patient safety and reduce the number of errors due to poor communication.