Although debate continues over estimates of the amount of preventable medical harm that occurs in health care, there seems to be a consensus that health care is not as safe and reliable as it might be. It is often assumed that copying and adapting the success stories of nonmedical industries, such as civil aviation and nuclear power, will make medicine as safe as these industries. However, the solution is not that simple. This article explains why a benchmarking approach to safety in high-risk industries is needed to help translate lessons so that they are usable and long lasting in health care. The most important difference among industries lies not so much in the pertinent safety toolkit, which is similar for most industries, but in an industry's willingness to abandon historical and cultural precedents and beliefs that are linked to performance and autonomy, in a constant drive toward a culture of safety. Five successive systemic barriers currently prevent health care from becoming an ultrasafe industrial system: the need to limit the discretion of workers, the need to reduce worker autonomy, the need to make the transition from a craftsmanship mindset to that of equivalent actors, the need for system-level (senior leadership) arbitration to optimize safety strategies, and the need for simplification. Finally, health care must overcome 3 unique problems: a wide range of risk among medical specialties, difficulty in defining medical error, and various structural constraints (such as public demand, teaching role, and chronic shortage of staff). Without such a framework to guide development, ongoing efforts to improve safety by adopting the safety strategies of other industries may yield reduced dividends. Rapid progress is possible only if the health care industry is willing to address these structural constraints needed to overcome the 5 barriers to ultrasafe performance.
Managing Risk in the Real World We have put forward a series of arguments culminating in the idea that patient safety should be viewed as the management of risk over time. We have suggested that healthcare could draw on a much wider repertoire of strategies and interventions to manage risk and enhance safety. This has been a book of ideas and argument but we hope that these are both rooted in practice and have practical application. In this chapter we fi rst consider some of the more immediate implications as we see them and then consider the form a longer term exploration and development might take.
We declare no competing interests. This article is published as part of G20 Riyadh Global Digital Health Summit (Aug 11-12, 2020) activities. Saudi Arabia hosted this virtual summit to leverage the role of digital health in the fight against current and future pandemics.
Innovation is often regarded as uniformly positive. This paper shows that the role of innovation in quality improvement is more complicated. The authors identify three known paradoxes of innovation in healthcare. First, some innovations diffuse rapidly, yet are of unproven value or limited value, or pose risks, while other innovations that could potentially deliver benefits to patients remain slow to achieve uptake. Second, participatory, cooperative approaches may be the best way of achieving sustainable, positive innovation, yet relying solely on such approaches may disrupt positive innovation. Third, improvement clearly depends upon change, but change always generates new challenges. Quality improvement systems may struggle to keep up with the pace of innovation, yet evaluation of innovation is often too narrowly focused for the system-wide effects of new practices or technologies to be understood. A new recognition of the problems of innovation is proposed and it is argued that new approaches to addressing them are needed.
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.