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  • Writer's pictureStephen Harden

If Hospitals Followed the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Safety Protocols

The Dreamliner has been grounded for several months due to safety incidents with its batteries. The news media has provided in-depth coverage of the story. One film clip that made the news was of female voice of the Boston-based air traffic controller telling the pilot of the Japan Airlines 787 that he must stop at the end of the runway; she is sending emergency vehicles out to deal with the fuel leak. She doesn’t have to argue, the conversation is calm, clear and concise, and the plane stops with no argument or discussion. Both the pilot and the ATC controller are personally accountable for what happens to the aircraft and its passengers.

Here's what Richard Corder on the blog KevinMD has to say about that incident...

"In our hospitals, these “incidents”, these “near misses” rarely get reported internally; the associated press and the national evening news certainly don’t pick them up as front page stories.

If we are obsessed with safety, like the human factors focused airline industry, our near misses and our good catches would be enough for us to stop the line, stand back and work to develop safer systems.

I know that the analogy is not perfect, our clinicians and care givers are tending to the complex human system that we cannot treat like the machine that is a plane, that being said there are lessons to be learned.

So what can leaders do?

Lead a culture where you model that it is safe to speak up and encourage people to call out near misses, report good catches and model the mindset and actions of being personally accountable.

Make it known that while clear roles and clarity around authority are important, everyone is personally empowered to speak up or call an unsafe or potentially unsafe behavior to the attention of their colleagues.

Use all meetings, from the board to the bedside, to tell stories of how a mistake was avoided and how, when things go wrong, you recovered.

When things do go wrong because they will, we are human beings caring for human beings, don’t point fingers and blame people. Own the outcome, work to learn from the failure, apologize, atone and remain open to feedback.

Adopt some of the human error mitigation systems that the airlines have embraced."

Richard is right on the money with his comments.

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