At Least I Didn’t Kill Somebody

A recent WSJ article reported that “medical errors kill enough people to fill four jumbo jets a week.” Yikes that is hard to imagine that over 98,000 deaths a year from mistakes.! US surgeons operate on the wrong body part as often as 40 times a week. I remember when I ruptured my left Achilles…twice (@#$!%), that required two pretty extensive surgeries and I remember that they tagged my left leg as a reminder for the surgeon.

The frightening part of the story was that the mistakes go mostly unnoticed and the medical community rarely learns from them. As you might guess, the problem is that the preventable mistakes are being made over and over again and as Marty Makary reports “doctors are not very good at complying with well-established best practices in their fields.”

Currently there is not an effective rating system for surgeons or hospitals. For virtually everything else now you have a rating system: YELP and Angie’s List for business’s and service providers, Urban Spoon for restaurants, Google Reviews, Ebay and Amazon reviews of product and sellers to name a few.

I would bet that you check an online review in almost every situation you can when making a purchase, deciding where to eat or what movie to go to. I do not think a hospital in the country has an online system to track quality of care, reviews, infection rates, surgeon reviews, nurse reviews, # of preventable errors,  # of types of surgeries they do etc. There are a few sites popping up like and for doctor reviews.

I accept that when sick people go to the hospital some will die. The question is how many die because of preventable errors? How many stories do you personally know of where an educated patient was able to stop a potential catastrophic error from being made?

There was report in the USA Today I have mentioned for years about a “checklist that cut death rates by 40% at 8 hospitals.” A checklist can be a valuable tool. It can help you put in a protocol that will help you not to forget something important. My question for those hospitals is what in the hell were the doing BEFORE they had a checklist?

Did they have a special meeting? “On the agenda today is a high number of preventable deaths of patients in this hospital. Someone says, hey, how about a checklist for every procedure to make sure we do it right every time? That’s a great idea!”

Fortunately for most of us, our errors do not result in preventable deaths. That is the good news. The bad news is that we may have let some aspects of what we do daily get a little too familiar and it is causing us to make preventable errors that are costing us in other ways. It could errors in establishing clear outcomes for a con call we are running, or in making the weekly sales meeting valuable, or in leveraging a sales call with a long time client, or in running our daily shift meeting in the restaurant, or in executing a service call with an unhappy client.

I still use an event checklist for every event I do to make sure am on top of all the details from the beginning. My dad asked me once, “Chip you have done over 900 events, are you still doing the little things every time to make them exceptional?

It has saved me many times! Recently I forgot to triple check with my client if  they had ordered the boards for the team building event I do – The Board Break Experience. The experience is not too impressive without boards! Luckily we were able to scramble at near the last minute and pull out a miracle to get them in time.
What has gotten too familiar for you? What are the preventable errors that you and your team are making that can be avoided? If you are in the service industry I guarantee those errors are what people are writing about you in online reviews! If they are there use them to train your team how to get better. Maybe you need to create a checklist for your sales calls. service calls, con call or pre-shift meetings to make sure you are prepared.

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