Started the day with a beautiful gondola ride into town overlooking the Colorado mountains at 7 am. Now, 16 hours later, as I reflect on our first day here, I am so appreciative that this conference has given me the opportunity to discuss, learn from, and collaborate with other health professionals who have the same goal of patient safety while each providing very unique experiences and perspectives. In this environment, we’ve been able to openly discuss aspects crucial to patient safety. Emphasized, was that patient safety is not a quick fix/bandage, but a patient-centered culture we must build with open communication, honesty, teamwork. We should view medical errors as a shortcoming of our current system and look for ways in which we can improve the system rather than looking for which doctor, nurse, or person is to blame.
The current culture of healthcare education and delivery is robust with hierarchy – a system which greatly deters both intra- and inter-professional development. It instills a fear of questioning those “higher up” than us, limiting our learning, and hindering our motivation to advocate and better serve our patients. No change in protocol or checklist can fix this. What needs to happen, is a change in culture – one that promotes individuals to ask for help, challenge normal ways of thinking, and speak up for our patients’ best interests even when it is against someone more senior. Through this communication, honesty, and teamwork, we can create a safe environment that allows healthcare providers to seek help, receive guidance, and best care for our patients.