When I give talks about patient safety, I usually include a slide called, "Why Pilots Won't Nurse." It's an attention getter, one that draws smiles and sometimes fosters an "a-ha" moment for students, seasoned clinicians, and administrators.
I think that pilots won't nurse because, as a group, pilots are knowledgeble enough to reject systems that lack sufficient barriers, redundancies, and opportunities to uncover and rectify potentially lethal errors that have been set in motion. Commericial aviation isn't fool-proof, but the industry's 1 in 6 million crash rate shows what can be accomplished in high stakes domains when adequate barriers, redundancies, and recovery ops are in place.
I could add another slide: why pilots don't practice pharmacy. And there's no better place to read why than Bob Wachter's thanksgiving day post about the tragic case in Ohio, one in which a little girl lost her life, a family dissolved, and a pharmacist went to jail.
Late last summer, Mike Cohen, the president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, published An Injustice Has Been Done about what happened to pharmacist Eric Cropp in the aftermath of little Emily Jerry's death. Bob and Mike talked about what Eric's case means, for professionals and for patient safety in a CareFusion webinar (the recording is available here). Thanks for speaking up.