Excerpt: 'Why Hospitals Should Fly'

PHOTO "Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety and Quality Care," by John J. Nance

Aviation safety expert John Nance believes medical care could learn a lot from the aviation industry when it comes to safety. And that serves as the thesis of his new book "Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety and Quality Care."

He describes new methods for supporting front-line hospital staff in providing safe, high-quality care for patients.

Read an excerpt of "Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety and Quality Care" below.

Chapter One

The 240-bed not-for-profit hospital hardly looked like the site of a revolution, quiet or otherwise. But the praise that had drawn Dr. Will Jenkins to this suburb of Denver, Colorado, had been unequivocal. St. Michael's, he was told, was the locus of a renaissance.

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Designed in the '50s, he concluded, noting the green metal trim of the exterior as he turned into the parking lot. But if it was pedestrian on the outside, somehow on the inside the staff and leadership of St. Michael's Memorial had managed a miracle: three years with no sentinel events, no patient safety incidents, patient and staff satisfaction scores off the chart on the high side, and a mortality rate so low it was attracting a flood of visitors from the far corners of health care.

Will parked the rental car and killed the engine as he looked at the ordinary brick and mortar exterior, squat and undistinguished under the cobalt blue canopy of a June sky. To the west, the front range of the Rockies stood high and imposing like a frosted pastry, still covered with a mantle of late spring snow. He'd barely noticed the snow during the drive from the airport, so intent was his concentration on the telephone exchange that had lured him here.

As promised, Dr. Jack Silverman, the administrator, was waiting for him in the lobby with the no-nonsense air of a busy surgeon. Silverman led the way to his office and plopped himself behind the desk, fixing his medical visitor with a penetrating gaze as Will Jenkins settled in the offered chair.

"Will," he began, "I'm aware that what we've done here is so unusual a growing tide of people want to come study us to death, but frankly, I don't have much time to spend explaining it. Over the next three days I'll spend some time showing you how different our culture is and how we figured it out, but the rest is up to you. Now, you and I are very much alike in that we're two doctors who've gravitated over time into administration, but we're still clinicians at heart, and fixing things—especially patients—is a shared passion. So I think I know what you're after, and I've prepared a reading list for you, plus a folder full of internal papers and explanations. You'll also have a chance to meet and talk with some of our key people, but if you want to get the same results in another hospital, you'll have to start with your own massive culture change."

"I understand," Jenkins answered.

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