I had no idea what to expect for our first day, but it was nothing short of eye opening. I got to meet other students who have a passion for improving patient safety, coming from places ranging from Ireland to Ohio. Different minds with diverse backgrounds came together to discuss ideas and pose questions to tackle the monster of medical error prevention, and I have been lucky enough to be part of this conversation!
The problem is serious. Hundreds of thousands of people in America die every year because of medical errors. The stories shared with us painted a picture of a devastating unnecessary loss that we all have a part in. How can we stop this? The first step, transparency. We need to be open and honest with patients and colleagues instead of avoiding to admit faults. As future physicians, we chose this path because we see the fragility of the human condition, and we seek to heal, not harm. Doctors often forget the power of their demeanor and attitude, and if we treat patients like they’re own family members, it’s a way to reconstruct the way we communicate. When every individual is kept in the loop about what’s happening and we really listen to each other, we can prevent all the pain that comes with making mistakes. In the culture of medicine, there is a huge fear of being wrong or making mistakes because of the daunting repercussions. That fear causes people to hide the wrong doings, but it can be at the expense of a human life. By embracing mistakes, we can promote the idea that it’s all something we can learn from. We’re not God, we’re not perfect, and as much as we would like to prevent it, accidents do happen. And to begin to face this, we can keep a clean conscious by being open and honest with patients, their families, and everyone we work with. It’s time to hold true to the values that brought us to this profession.