Navigating a minefield

When I left the Telluride Patient Safety summer camp, I was full of inspiration and energy. I promised to be a safety disciple. To bring the message of patient safety back to Georgetown. In one week I would be directing the “Orientation Cup,” a team building activity for Georgetown’s 200 incoming first year medical students on their first day of orientation. And I promised to incorporate the message of patient safety into my activity.

Even before attending the Telluride summer camp, I had designed my Orientation Cup to consist of team challenges that would build teamwork and communication skills, which are essential for a culture of safety. The students would compete at four different stations: the frozen scrubs contest, medical charades, the egg drop challenge, and the minefield (my personal favorite). In the minefield, blindfolded students would tiptoe around beanbags (mines) as their seeing partners gave verbal navigational directions. The… Continue reading

An apology

On Thursday our team accepted the faculty’s challenge and successfully piled even more people on and off of the teeter totter, in even less time, without breaking the eggs. Afterwards Dave congratulated us on an epic world record-setting accomplishment. I was so happy and proud of our teamwork! But last night, as I reflected on my contributions during the activity, I remembered doing something I wasn’t proud of.

On Tuesday, my teammate Collin had observed that wearing flip flops while inching backwards on the teeter totter was a potential source of error. So yesterday at the beginning of our record-setting performance, when I noticed Laura was wearing flip flops, I turned to her and told her she should take them off. I sensed her hesitation, which I quickly shot down by saying, “we noticed on Tuesday that someone in flip flops almost tripped.” Feeling the pressure from our team to… Continue reading

Seat belts on tour buses

I couldn’t help but notice the irony.

On Tuesday night we all hopped on a motorcoach (tour bus) for the 45-minute drive from Ellicott City to Baltimore for dinner at a restaurant on the harbor. As our team of safety-conscious faculty and students settled in for the drive, very few of us (myself included) bothered to put on our seat belts. Sure, we probably all wear them when we ride in normal cars, but tour buses are monstrous vehicles, so we’re immune from traffic injuries, right?

I was sitting next to Lua, our classmate from Ireland, and she did put on her seat belt. What a brazen challenge to my delusion of immortality! Lua made me second-guess myself, and for a few agonizing seconds I debated following her example. But then I decided, “hey, it must be just a goofy Irish thing. I’m an American, and I’m not gonna buckle… Continue reading

Without autopsies, hospitals bury their mistakes

Today we talked about what a post-medical error investigation should look like, and (I think it was Dave) mentioned the importance of autopsies (great article PDF here), but autopsies aren’t covered by insurance. This was news to me, so I did some research.

Previously I had only learned about the early history of autopsies. Roman Law forbade the dissection of human cadavers in the 3rd Century BC. Although Galen‘s anatomical teachings were based only on animal dissections, and thus hopelessly flawed, his teachings on human anatomy survived essentially unchallenged from the 2nd through 14th Centuries AD. In the 14th Century the dissection of human cadavers resumed, and the field of anatomy experienced centuries of discoveries that both rocked the foundation of medicine and boosted the healing potential its practitioners (e.g. the discoveries of the circulatory and lymphatic systems). This summer I read a biography of John Hunter… Continue reading

AELPS 2022 Dates

- CMF Scholars (Week 1)*: 6/5/22 - 6/9/22
*Session exclusive to COPIC Medical Foundation Residents.
- Sorrel McElroy Scholars (Week 2): 6/12/22 - 6/16/22
- Bennathan Scholars (Week 3): 7/19/22 - 7/23/22
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