Last week I attended a discussion about the disclosing medical errors to patients. The discussion was structured around an example case in which a patient was given the wrong medication but fortunately experienced no complications as a result. As with most hospital errors, this represented a failure at several steps of a complex process, with mistakes by multiple people/departments. When the nurse realized the error, the nurse asked a member of the medical team to write a prescription for the medication the patient actually received (i.e., a prescription for the error).
In high-reliability organizations such as healthcare, aviation, and law enforcement, trust is vital. Errors could cause deaths, so workers must carefully coordinate complex actions (e.g., airline travel). High-reliability organizations prevent catastrophic errors by fostering strong relationships, honesty, and trust. For this trust to develop, there must be psychological safety. When teams share a sense of psychological safety, they feel safe admitting errors, challenging others’ views, and engaging in other types of “interpersonal risk taking” (Edmondson, 1999). Psychological safety plays a role in whether providers disclose errors within the organization—to fellow team members, to other teams, and to administrative personnel.
But what about the patient? Read more