Psychological Safety Could Help Minimize Medical Error

Posted in: Medical Malpractice | Dec 07,2019

Image result for medical errorA researcher who spoke at the recent Association of American Medical Colleges Annual Meeting discussed how a culture of “psychological safety” can help make for better and higher- performing surgical and medical teams.

According to Amy Edmondson, psychological safety exists when every member of a team, right from the lowest- ranking member to the highest ranking one, all feel safe in their ability to speak up without feeling intimidated or cautious.

Edmondson began studying the work practices of high- preforming teams several years ago, and found to her surprise, that the top- performing medical teams were not those who reported fewer errors, but actually those who reported more errors.  As she further studied this fascinating discrepancy, she found that higher -performing teams encourage their members to contribute to the identification and reporting of errors. This kind of interpersonal climate helped employees to understand and fully appreciate the significance of the risks involved in their work, and contribute to the success of the team by speaking up without fear or intimidation.

While such psychologically safe workplaces may be the way to help identify medical errors and prevent them, they are not always easy to establish. Edmondson recommends that team leaders work at making sure that all members are on the same page about all the risks they may face during the procedure, invite engagement from team members and respond to concerns by acting on those concerns.

Ultimately, there is always scope for medical errors to occur, and if the interpersonal climate doesn’t allow all team members to feel safe enough to alert the higher- ups in the hierarchy, like physicians or specialists, to potential errors, then errors are always bound to happen. It isn’t possible to change an hierarchy, and a lot depends on how persons in higher positions choose to handle their status.

Any medical error can have devastating consequences for patients and their families. Apart from injuries, patients may suffer from possible permanent disability as a result of the injury, incur medical expenses to treat complications caused by the error, and suffer a reduced capacity to earn. If your loved one has suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence, talk to an Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at Montross Miller and discuss your eligibility for a claim.