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February 23, 2017

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Joel Selmeier
Jan. 30, 2011

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The lessons learned in the airline industry are of only marginal value in health care because the motivations are antithetical. Pilots go down with the plane. They want to make sure it doesn't happen again. Medicine wants to make sure no one knows when they keep crashing planes, and even makes more money when they do, as long as no one knows about it.

Pilots do not drop passengers off in remote locations and then make sure that no other pilots pick them up in order to cover up injuries caused by pilots. The health care community does that routinely. Victims of errors and sins in medicine find they cannot even get their injuries diagnosed let alone treated. In fact, they cannot even get what happened to them inserted in the record -- not even when the injured patient is a doctor herself (witness the case of Janice M Scully, MD - Try as they might, injured patients cannot even become statistics.

Pilots work with honest information. Doctors make sure no such thing exists. Only 2% of adverse events are accurately reported in medicine (according to the 2010 report from Health and Human Services, as well as other studies). Patients are the only ones who will report adverse events accurately and no mechanism exists to cull that information from them. The mechanisms that exist do the opposite. Until that is changed, the unacceptable rates of unnecessary death and injury in medicine will not noticeably be improved by adopting the lessons of pilots because medicine is not working with honest information and it has a disinterest in learning the lessons. Honest information could change that, but it will never come from anyone in medicine. They have risk management departments training all personnel to make sure of that.

(Suggest removal) 1/30/11 at 8:39 a.m.

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