By October 20, 2009 2 Comments Read More →

Wachter is Right: Patient Safety is Not the Patient’s Job

Wachter’s World : Can Patients Help Ensure Their Own Safety? More Importantly, Why Should They Have To?

The whole subject of asking patients and families to participate in safeguarding their own safety is something I’ve written about before and the idea makes me cringe. Do airlines ask me to double check that the pilot has set the flaps properly? No. Where do hospitals get the idea they can ask patients to confirm that caregivers have washed their hands or that they are bringing the right meds?

Is it probably in your interest to double check, to inspect their work? Yes, because healthcare has not proven that it can operate as reliably as patient safety or the U.S. nuclear navy (as highlighted so well in Steve Spear’s book Chasing the Rabbit.Double checking the hospital’s work should be considered, at best, a short-term countermeasure — a workaround. It shouldn’t be considered the ultimate quality improvement solution.Dr. Bob Wachter writes about this on his outstanding blog. He’s not opposed to patients and families being involved — he’s just skeptical that it really helps. Where is the data? Do hyper-involved patients cause more problems than the avoid?

Read his whole post, but Wachter sums up his thoughts this way:

Patients encountering the healthcare system lack this trust [as exists with airlines], which make relaxation and passivity seem maladaptive, even suicidal. So I completely understand why patients and families would want to do whatever they can to improve their odds of emerging unscathed. I’m just not sure how well the resulting tactics work or how to apply them most effectively. Clearly, this is a testable hypothesis, and it should, in fact, be tested.

In the meantime, while we should support the efforts of patients and families to participate in their own safety when feasible, our primary focus should be on making such hyper-vigilance unnecessary. This one is our bad, not theirs.

Well said.

The patient hyper vigilance should be considered, at best, a short-term countermeasure until better systems can be put in place to protect patients and provide perfect patient care.


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please scroll down to post a comment. Click here to receive posts via email.


Now Available – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can buy the book today, including signed copies from the author.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Please consider leaving a comment or sharing this post via social media.

Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

2 Comments on "Wachter is Right: Patient Safety is Not the Patient’s Job"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Ankit Patel says:

    100% agree with the post. I can't tell you how many times a doctor has either misdiagnosed my ailment and given me the wrong treatment. Now I'm paranoid about the doctor really looking out for my wellbeing and it's not good for the system to have hyper-vigilant patients like myself because it causes too much churn on the system.
    Ankit

Post a Comment