The Keys to Successful Medical Education


Drs. Rafael Hernandez and Kamal Nagpal with Dr. Lucian Leape at the June 2011 Telluride Roundtable.

The Telluride Patient Safety Roundtable was founded six years ago by Drs. David Mayer and Tim McDonald of the University of Illinois Medical Center and Richard Boothman, Esq. of the University of Michigan Health System. All three are national leaders in patient safety and medical malpractice reform The Roundtable brings together patient advocates and experts in patient safety and health sciences education for a unique sharing of perspectives, ideas, and strategies for improving our healthcare system. A central concept is that patient safety and quality care are dependent upon transparent, effective, and honest communications between healthcare professionals, and patients and their families.

CIR Vitals sat down with Drs. Nagpal and Hernandez to reflect on the lessons they took away from the conference.

A Culture of Respect

KN: Even with a PhD in patient safety under my belt, a lot of concepts were novel to me. During this roundtable, I learned that we have missed important concepts in our education, which include behavior, attitude, and relationships with patients and colleagues.

Disrespectful behavior, humiliation, ego, hierarchy, blame, and fear should not have a place in medicine, as it clouds judgment, impairs thinking, and compromises patient safety. As residents, we need to be aware of the importance of respect, appreciation and support for all members of the healthcare team and for our patients. CEOs and department chairs must also champion this culture change throughout the entire organization.

RH: We need clinical champions—people like you and me that are willing to go an extra step to make a difference. We need to begin creating a “culture of respect” and atmosphere of no blame or shame; an atmosphere that allows us to report or share incidents and near misses with the sole purpose of learning from them and taking out of the equation judgments from peers or unconstructive criticism.

Understanding Our Patients Perspectives

RH: I have always known that coins have two sides, that every story changes depending on the perspective of the person that tells it. But I never imagined that listening to other versions would impact my perspective so much.

KN: Health care should be patient-centered. Patients and their families should be actively involved in all the decisions and there should be open discussion. I spoke with a few mothers children had an unfortunate outcome in healthcare treatment. It made me realize that some of the outcomes would have been different if they had been actively involved in decision-making and consent had been truly informed.

RH: Our goal as healthcare providers should always be to practice medicine with transparency and respect, not only for our patients but also for our patients’ family members, as much of the time we make them feel like outsiders.

Treating the Whole Patient

RH: Plato wrote, “The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul; although the two cannot be separated.”

During my week in Telluride I can honestly say that my perspective of medicine has changed 180 degrees.

The Telluride Roundtable aims to identify and develop future patient safety leaders. See for more information.

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