Friday, May 18, 2012

Hospitals Next Year May Be Run More Like Airlines

For anyone who has flown in the past few years, the idea of applying airline regulations to…well, anything, may seem like a horrifying prospect. However, that very idea is now taking shape among some medical industry experts. Agencies in charge of patient safety and medical spending are looking to take a page from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the form of “Blue Sheet Reports.”

In the aviation industry, when an accident occurs, the NTSB performs rigorous, in-depth investigations to the cause and results of, and possible ways to avoid, that accident. These investigative reports usually end up causing changes within the industry, both on the ground and in the air. The end result being fewer accidents, better prevention, and improved responses.

Agencies, like the Texas Medical Institute of Technology, want to apply this report format to the medical industry. They believe that these investigations would lead to fewer patient injuries and less wasted medical spending. American Medical News took a look at the recently-published article in the Journal of Patient Safety that outlined this new initiative.
The proposal is the latest iteration of a decade-long push for medicine to imitate the safety success achieved by commercial aviation, which slashed the risk of death in a crash from 1 in 2 million in the 1970s to 1 in 10 million today.

The NTSB’s so-called blue-cover reports of accidents often lead to direct changes in federal regulations, airline policies and in the cockpit, said Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III. The pilot became a national hero when he successfully landed US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River in January 2009 after it was struck by a flock of geese that disabled the plane’s engines. All 155 people on board survived the accident.
Opponents to the possible change believe that the entire enterprise is redundant, and that today’s medical industry standards are more than capable of meeting the needs of patient safety.

What do you think? Are hospital patients at risk? Are in-depth investigations really necessary to bring about change, or can the industry police itself?


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

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