Could safety boards provide a valuable tool to enhance the safety of reproductive medicine

The National Transportation Safety Board provides an excellent model for a safety program that could enhance safety in the practice of all aspects of reproductive medicine.


Richard Scott Jr., M.D., Nathalie DeZiegler

Volume 100, Issue 6, Pages 1518-1523, December 2013


Medicine and aviation have a striking number of similarities. Both are led by highly-trained individuals performing complex tasks that are critical to outcomes. They also integrate the efforts of other professionals to assure that the flight, procedures, or processes are completed successfully. Also in common, is the potential for errors to have catastrophic and even life-threatening consequences. Both aviation and medicine have responded to this complex operating environment by building safety programs. Unfortunately, those in medicine have not been optimal in reducing significant adverse outcomes, including deaths. It has been suggested that given the parallels, that aviation safety programs might be adapted to clinical medicine. One such measure would the formation of a Clinical Safety Board (CSB) modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Such a board would collect data across the nation and determine root causes of errors. They may then provide recommendations to professional societies and regulatory agencies for consideration for implementation. Such programs would be dependent on accurate and thorough reporting. Indemnification, similar to that enacted by the federal government for aviation, would be critical. In the end, a CSB should empower better patient care with reduced liability to the providers and programs.

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