I found the Nov. 11 issue marking the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report To Err is Human both thoughtful and thought-provoking.
The differences in language chosen by Dr. Don Berwick in his op-ed and in the editorial to address the persistent challenges to patient safety were telling, and perhaps indicative of some barriers to success.
While Berwick speaks of “human limits,” “guardrails around human frailties,” and “smart safety initiatives eschew blame,” the editorial chooses “requires admission of guilt,” “change in mentality of some providers who might see patients in the aggregate,” “retail-based customer service” and “inexcusable.”
As a retired critical-care surgeon, former chief medical officer, and quality committee board member at a midsize health system, it has been my experience that the language chosen to address patient-safety issues matters, and either promotes or hinders the collaborations necessary for progress. I believe Dr. Berwick’s characterizations to be not only the more humane and accurate, but more productive.
Dr. James Girardy