I will keep my reflections on today’s content short and sweet, as I had a profound realization today. The last two days, as I have previously mentioned, have been extremely draining emotionally. I think this is both in part because of the incredible sadness I fell in regards to the many, tragic stories I have been told, but also in regards to helplessness I have felt in how to change the medical system. I have seen many of the behaviors we have been discussing, which have undoubtedly led to poor outcomes. Although I have on occasion reported these individuals for their indiscretions, I realized today this was not good enough.
Today, Dr. Galbraith posed the question, “Why do our patients trust us?” My immediate response was because we have taken an oath to do no harm and because we care enough to attempt to do good by our patients in all situations. He then asked, “But why do we really have their trust?” The answer is simply that we are expected to regulate our brethren and to weed out those that are not acting in behalf of the interests of medicine or our patients.
Patient safety is the greatest goal in all of health care. I’ve realized today that despite all efforts to change medical systems to improve safety, there will be individuals who do not play by the rules and who endanger patients by their very presence in the system. I am realizing my patient safety responsibilities carry far beyond my own interactions with the patient population, and I have a calling to protect patients in all situations (even if that means from a colleague). As the great man Dan Ford told me today, “The most important part of all of this, is the idea of keeping your true north.”
He couldn’t be more right.