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Briefing and Opinion
October 22, 2004

Stress Factor
Answers in Aviation

There are differences between health care and aviation, but similarities also abound, and there is a great opportunity for all of us in health care to learn from aviation. The medical field is adopting the aviation industry's approach to monitoring error by using incident reports, survey data, and direct observation.

... Simulation and crew resource management, aviation's methods of preventing and managing error, are being studied in detail in anesthesia and emergency medicine, and research may soon demonstrate the decreases in error we all hope for. Certainly, medical personnel would benefit from feedback on their performance, including interpersonal skills.

Source: MEDICAL ERROR, edited by Marilynn Rosenthal and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe of the University of Michigan, Chapter 11, Will Airline Safety Models Work in Medicine? by Eric J. Thomas and Robert L. Helmreich



Thoughtful Action

Many people, prodded by the newspapers and politicians, want immediate action. Such rapid action usually leads to hastily thought out and quickly implemented programs that do not have much chance to work. Of course we need action! However we need thoughtful action based on the best research or sustained clinical experience possible.

People often have a strong temptation to simplify. Everything then looks easy. Yet changing large, complex systems and their practices is seldom easy, and we always pay a price in the long run when we trust simple descriptions, answers and solutions.

Source: MEDICAL ERROR, edited by Marilynn Rosenthal and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe of the University of Michigan, Chapter 12, Struggling to Understand, Struggling to Act by Marilynn M. Rosenthal and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe.