The Newsroom    Published Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006, 12:28 PM
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What Pilots Can Teach Hospitals About Patient Safety

New York Times, Oct. 31, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/31/health/31safe.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all Wearing scrubs and slouching in their chairs, the emergency room staff members, assembled for a patient-safety seminar, largely ignored the hospital’s chief executive while she made her opening remarks. They talked on their cell phones and got up to freshen their coffee or snag another Danish. But the room became still and silent when an airline pilot who used to fly F-14 Tomcats for the Navy took the lectern. Handsome, upright and meticulously dressed, the pilot began by recounting how in 1977, a series of human errors caused two Boeing 747s to collide on a foggy runway in the Canary Islands, killing 583 people. Riveted, a surgeon gripped his pen with both hands as if he might break it, an anesthetist stopped maniacally chewing his gum, and a wide-eyed nurse bit her lip. An attention grabber, yes, but what does an airplane crash have to do with patient safety? Among the growing number of health care institutions that have hired aviation consultants or adopted aviation safety practices in the last five years are Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; the University of Nebraska; and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.



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