In Jonah Lehrer's critically acclaimed new book "Imagine," he discusses the idea that creative problems are sometimes best solved by transplanting the principles of a seemingly unrelated process. As a result, the solution to a problem may not always need to be a "fresh" idea, but simply an existing idea transplanted to a new setting.
The problem of patient safety due to accidents and medical negligence in America is both widespread and critical. Recently, some high-profile celebrities and patient-safety experts have called for a solution to the problem rooted in the model of a time-tested agency.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a federal agency charged with investigating transportation accidents and promoting transportation safety. As part of its duties, the agency regularly reports on accidents in America and identifies the most critical safety hazards responsible for these accidents.
Because of this process of reporting and making subsequent recommendations, other federal and state transportation agencies can respond to the nation's most critical transportation threats.
Patient safety experts believe that an agency designed to function like the NTSB with a patient safety focus might be a truly great solution to the plague of medical negligence and patient accidents that occur every day in thousands of health care facilities across the nation.
These advocates argue that a patient-safety-centered agency could regularly report on the issues most critical to the problem and ultimately save countless lives. In addition, as NTSB recommendations usually lead to regulatory action on the part of other agencies, the patient safety agency's recommendations could carry similar weight and lead to preventative action.
Perhaps the solution to medical errors in America lies in a model already widely used for accidents in the transportation sector. Only support for and action on this concept will allow us to know for sure.
Source: Fierce Healthcare, "Safety experts, celebrities want aviation-like agency to protect patients," Alicia Caramenico, May 17, 2012