Surgeon Discusses Strategies for Reducing Medical Errors by Engaging Patients, Increasing Transparency

October 5, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


One surgeon says in a September 21, 2012, Wall Street Journal article that having providers dictate notes aloud or complete notes within the patient’s view is one of several strategies with a high likelihood of reducing medical errors and miscommunications. Engaging the patient in the note-taking process can offer patients the opportunity to correct mistakes they observe, clarify symptoms that come to mind, and ask questions that can help provide a double check against communication errors, writes the author. Drawing safety comparisons between the U.S. aviation and healthcare industries, the author recounts anecdotal stories from his time as a medical school student and young doctor to illustrate the ways in which the traditional culture of medicine can contribute to medical mistakes. To change the culture, he suggests five reformative practices. The first two, requiring medical offices to display quality information on online dashboards and publishing scores on safety culture, would provide consumers with data to inform their decisions in choosing a facility and motivate hospitals to make greater improvements.

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