Sometimes the wheels turn slowly. Last August I was invited to be interviewed for “WebM&M,” an online feature that I’d frankly never heard of. The invitation said
I’d like to invite you to be a featured interviewee on the topic of “The Role of Patient Advocacy in Patient Safety” for AHRQ WebM&M, the online case-based journal on medical errors and patient safety. The Web site represents the federal government’s major effort to educate practicing doctors and nurses about patient safety. Together with its sister site AHRQ PSNet, AHRQ WebM&M gets nearly a million visits annually. You can visit the site at http://webmm.ahrq.gov.
WebM&M is managed by Bob Wachter MD (blog, Twitter Bob_Wachter), with whom I’ve crossed paths a few times; I described his work and my impression in a post here a while ago, and let’s just say I’d jump at anything he recommends. So we did the interview, and it faded away into the backlog of things being processed (by somebody else :-)).
Then a few weeks ago, up popped the transcript, ready for review. A few quick edits, and voilá: In Conversation with…Dave deBronkart (“e-Patient Dave”). It includes an 8 minute excerpt of the audio.
Honestly, I’m thrilled to have been invited to do this. Thanks to Bob, to AHRQ (the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) … and to every single one of the clinicians and patient advocates whose thoughts and advice in these past seven years have given me these thoughts.
Glossary for people new to medicine:
“M&M” is “morbidity and mortality,” a deservedly gruesome-sounding term. Wikipedia describes M&M thus:
Morbidity and mortality (M&M) conferences are traditional [conferences] … peer reviews of mistakes occurring during the care of patients. The objectives of a well-run M&M conference are to learn from complications and errors, to modify behavior and judgment based on previous experiences, and to prevent repetition of errors leading to complications.
It sounds noble, sorta. But I’m going to take a poke at it based on what numerous docs have said: too often, M&M in one specialty ends up concluding that someone in another specialty screwed up. Human nature, I guess.
And that’s why in the interview I said this:
If I could wave a wand and cause a perception to be clearly present and disseminated, it would be that medicine is a difficult, dangerous, complicated pursuit, where the best available information is changing constantly.
Please, let’s not have clinicians bear the insanely unrealistic expectation of perfection … Let’s figure out some way to have everyone agree that this is difficult and dangerous and we’re all in it together, and it’s a blessing when either party catches the other doing something that they know could be done better.
I invite every single one of you (of us) to start shifting our conversations about medicine – all of them – to realize we’re all in it together. And it’s difficult. Let’s work on it together.