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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Patient Safety Quiz: The Power of Telling our Stories

Q1.Which headline was on the front page of the New York Times this week:

A) Man Bites Dog
B) Israeli and Hamas Leaders Mark Broad Peace Pact with Joyful Group Hug
C) Large Hospital System Fires CEO over Patient Safety Problems

Yes, it was a toughie, but if you guessed C, you’re right. Bob Woodruff broadcast his story, and stories of other American men serving in Iraq, about brain injuries and the frequently inadequate treatment for them. Yesterday’s NY Times headline read, “Army Secretary Ousted in Furor on Hospital Care,” and the story noted it was “the second change of command in two days.”

Q2. Which national hospital system has both a unique and outstanding electronic medical record that integrates patients’ histories over inpatient and outpatient visits, AND a computerized physician order entry system with a dazzling set of alerts to protect patients against medication errors?

A: The Veterans Health Administration

Q3.In 1982, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner fired two managers, four pitching coaches, and two hitting instructors. Did it help?

A: No. They lost more games than they won.

Q4. Which hospital has made tremendous progress in patient safety since firing their CEO in the wake of the widely told story of a medication error that led a journalist’s death? Hint: The hospital’s exemplary patient advisory council is a focus of pending Massachusetts legislation.

A: Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Only time will tell whether these firings have effects more like those of Steinbrenner or the Dana Farber’s Board.

Woodruff's public airing of these men's powerful stories may make it possible to speed the return to good health of thousands of wounded veterans.

Advice: Your stories are powerful! Share them with us, and share our stories widely with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Read another story about a veteran’s care.

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