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With that in mind, here are five aviation practices worth embracing in our world:

  1. Focus on usability. Aviation used Commercial Aviation Safety Teams to improve the usability and safety of things like cockpits. This has great applicability in healthcare and there is a movement afoot, led by Peter Pronovost, to do the same for medical devices.2
  2. Make it safe to talk about events. Aviation led with ASRS. Healthcare has followed with Patient Safety Organizations. Hopefully PSOs will fulfill their potential and unleash a torrent of new data about the nuanced roots of error. This will require that PSOs become functional and culture change within most healthcare providers.
  3. Crew Resource Management.
  4. Simulation. Captain Sullenberger was able to land his plane in the Hudson for many reasons. One of those was that he had practiced landing a plane down in the water dozens of times in the simulator. Simulation is spreading in healthcare for everything from warm-ups, to surgeon training, to crew training to credentialing. That’s a good thing.
  5. Prediction. Aviation has gotten better and better at predicting air traffic. Healthcare is beginning to do the same. This bodes well for safety as surveillance capabilities begin to anticipate specific procedures, patients, time period and units when there may be elevated risk of harm. 

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