Errors in judgment must occur in the practice of an Art which consists largely in balancing probabilities. Sir William Osler
Trust is the bedrock of medical practice , but when medical errors are made (and even
worse, when an attempt is made to cover them up) this trust gets eroded, which means that
the cover-up is worse than the crime. On the other hand, trust breeds trust; and if patients
know that doctors can be relied on to admit their errors, they will reward this candor with
their trust. To create trust, we need to promise and deliver three things – a valuable service;
transparency and accountability.
Doctors are very interested in creating a safer healthcare system. Not only do we want to work in a system that will help us to avoid mistakes in order to protect ourselves professionally , we want this for personal reasons as well. We know that we too will become patients some day, and because we are so aware of the scope for medical errors, we’d like to be able to ensure we get safe medical care ourselves when we fall sick!
Preventing medical errors is a topic which is both important and urgent. Even if you are healthy now, since all of us are future patients, all of us can be potential victims of medical error, and we need to learn to protect ourselves. I can guarantee you know at least one person who has been harmed by a medical mistake. However, in spite of the enormous harm they can cause, we rarely talk about them because we feel they will never happen to us. This ostrich in the sand attitude is dangerous .
The point of this book is not to scare you – it’s to arm you with tools you can use to protect yourself proactively! Sadly, even though the scope for errors in India is far greater than in the USA, (given our overloaded healthcare system), this problem is not given the attention it deserves. Many errors go unrecognized and unreported, and in some cases, are even deliberately covered up to avoid litigation
We have the expertise to protect patients (and doctors as well) from medical error, and we have discussed lots of tools we can use to do so. However, this is not something doctors can do by themselves – this needs a systemic change, in which everyone needs to participate, starting from the health minister to the hospital CEO to the ward assistant as well as the patient.
You can contribute to the conversation at the website for this book, www.safetyforpatients.in. The change needs to start with each one of us. If we don’t learn to protect ourselves from medical errors, then who will?
The Patient’s PerspectiveThe Patient’s Checklist: 10 Simple Hospital Checklists to Keep You Safe, Sane & Organized. Elizabeth Bailey, 2012
Patients can experience serious communication and safety issues that can put them at risk. The Patient’s Checklist is an important practical tool to keep you safe.
The Patient Survival Handbook: Avoid Being the Next Victim of Medical Error. Stephen M. Powell, Richard D. Stone, 2015
This handbook gives patients and their loved ones ways to prevent medical errors. It empowers the reader to become a more informed and active partner in preventing errors and in making better healthcare decisions.
Speak Up and Stay Alive - the patient advocate hospital survival guide. Patricia J. Rullo, 2012
Medical errors are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, making the hospital a dangerous place to be. Why do they happen? What can you do about them? How can you keep yourself safe?
What Did the Doctor Just Say? How to Understand What Your Doctor Is Saying and Prevent Medical Errors from Happening to You and Your Loved Ones. Lynn R Parker , 2009
This book will help you avoid falling victim to medical error by teaching you how to understand what the doctor says and how to ensure he understands you too.
Did the Doctor Make A Mistake?Doug Wojcieszak, 2013 This quick read is a valuable practical guide . It will help you keep your cool when something goes wrong and you are worried that the doctor may have made a mistake.
The Doctor’s Perspective
Communication for Nurses: How to Prevent Harmful Events and Promote Patient Safety.Dr Pamela Schuster, 2010
This book for nurses guides the development of comprehensive, professional communication skills to prevent errors that result in patient injuries and death.
Adverse Events, Stress, and Litigation: A Physician’s Guide: A Physicians’s Guide. Sara Charles and Paul R. Frisch, 2005
Bad medical outcomes traumatize patients but they also traumatize physicians. It gives doctors an understanding of how lawyers think and work to help defendants.
Error Reduction in Health Care: A Systems Approach to Improving Patient Safety.Patrice L. Spath , 2011
Offers a step-by-step guide for implementing the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine to reduce the frequency of errors in health care services; and to mitigate the impact of errors when they do occur.
Patient Safety and Healthcare Improvement at a Glance.. Sukhmeet Panesar (Editor), 2014 This is thorough overview of healthcare quality and safety, written specifically for nursing students , junior doctors and healthcare professionals. It bridges the gap between the practical and the theoretical to ensure the safety and wellbeing of patients.
Understanding Patient Safety. Robert Wachter, 2012 This classic text book has been authored by one of the leaders in the US hospital safety movement. It describes complex concepts very clearly.
Patient Safety: A Case-Based Comprehensive Guide. Abha Agrawal, 2014. Uses an engaging format to teach doctors about patient safety, by describing the case histories of patients whose care has been marred by medical errors. Comprehensive and well-written.
Patient Safety , 2nd edition.Charles Vincent, 2010.
Excellent text book which covers all aspects of patient safety, written by one of the leaders in the field. Provides a perspective from the UK, and is a pleasure to read.
Sorry Works! 2.0 : Disclosure, Apology, and Relationships Prevent Medical Malpractice Claims. 2nd Edition. Doug Wojcieszac, 2010
This book explains why saying sorry is one of the first things which doctors should do when a medical error occurs.
Talking with Patients and Families about Medical Error: A Guide for Education and Practice. 1st Edition. Robert D. Truog, 2010
A very useful and practical guide which teaches doctors the nitty-gritty of how to talk to patients after a medical error occurs.