Wake Up Calls

I’ll never forget the patient safety lecture I had early in my first year of medical school.  The statistics on patient deaths due to preventable medical errors both shocked and horrified me, and it was this information that drove me to apply for the Telluride Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety.  During one of our lectures, parts of our applications were shared with the group and that moment when I found out the truth about the rate of medical errors was the part of my application which the lecturer shared.  As he put it, that moment was my wake up call.  And this is true.  However, like our alarm clocks it’s easy to hit snooze on our wake up calls.  It’s easy to push uncomfortable truths to the back of our minds and focus on the good in medicine, not the bad.  I am so glad that I applied to Telluride soon after my wake up call, because after this week I will never be able to think about practicing medicine without also thinking about patient safety again.  This week was packed full of wake up calls, from the stories of patients who were victims of medical error, to the families of these patients who came to share their experiences with us, to the lectures about the improvements that hospitals have been able to make in patient safety and the ways that these improvements have helped both patients and hospital employees.  These past few days have been unforgettable, and I am committed to bringing the lessons and stories that I learned from this experience back to my medical school to share with classmates and faculty alike.

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