Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Creating A Culture Of Patient Safety: The Role Of Medical Schools

As hospitals today try to build a culture of Patient Safety, everyone looks to the CEO to lead this change and integrate patient safety as every body's primary concern. And this is how it should be. But this alone will not build the desired culture. There are many other providers and support personnel who must also be part of this new culture. So how do we ensure that all of the physicians are part of this process? It would be helpful if this were part of their basic training in medical school, but sadly this is not the case.

Rather than teaching future doctors about patient safety, teamwork and how to learn from their mistakes, medical schools throughout the U.S. continue to focus myopically on basic science and clinical knowledge. This is the conclusion of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation. They state that medical schools and teaching hospital leaders should place the highest priority on creating learning cultures that emphasize patient safety, model professionalism, enhance collaborative behavior, encourage transparency, and value the individual learner.

Another report put together by a 40 member roundtable of medical students, medical educators and leaders in patient safety concluded that effective interpersonal skills and the science of improvement can be just as important as the basic concepts that have been taught in medical schools for generations. They conclude that each physician that grasps the multiple dimensions of patient safety is one more physician likely to find humility in the challenge and therefore likely to provide safe care to his or her patients. More importantly, such a physician is far more likely to lead the development of positive organizational cultures and patient safety priorities.

Besides biochemistry, let's teach our future physicians what a patient safety culture really means.

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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