Quality of care is shaped by so many variables— literally millions of habits, interactions, poor processes and practices, as well as an industrywide culture that seems to accept significant lapses in quality as a fact of life.
Where to begin? The answers cover the coastline, from intrinsic failings in graduate medical and clinical education, to a culture of acceptance in hospitals where nurses, techs and ancillary personnel are so busy trying to meet the demands of taking care of sicker patients that it is hard to find time to break the thousands of bad habits—virtually automatic responses to problems or events — that lead to, among other things, medication errors, wrong site operations, and patient falls because bed rails were not up and alarms not set, an incident that is only too familiar to my family.
I wonder what it will take for an industry where preventable deaths are such a problem — at a minimum the equivalent of a Boeing 737 commuter jet crashing every day, of every week, of every year, with all souls on board killed—to rise up and say enough is enough? If that happened in the airline industry, the FAA would shut down the offending companies by the third day, at the latest.
I love this industry, but really, we need to be a little more passionate—no, a helluva lot more passionate—about improving quality and protecting our patients and our employees, who, in healthcare, are more likely to be injured on the job than if they toiled on the floors of an Alcoa mill when Paul O’Neill ran that company.
What is the CEOs role in reversing those thousands of bad habits, or in a culture that seems to passively accept that quality issues are just a fact of life?
© 2012 John Gregory Self