Saturday, May 9, 2009

Medical Board of California

On Friday, May 7, 2009, during the public comment period, I read a statement before the medical board (available on my website,, addressing the purposes and goals of the board's Medical Error Task Force, established by the board in January, 2008. The Task Force appears to have been eliminated or its mission subsumed into the board's education and wellness committees at the end of 2008.

What I found so hopeful and promising about the Task Force when I first read about it early last year on the MBC's website was its goal to "assist those in the medical community in their efforts to reduce errors". One member reported the challenge is how to take physicians, hospitals, lawyers and others out of a litigation mentality and encourage them to cooperate to solve problems. Finally, the website also indicated that the Task Force's goal was to minimize discipline and maximize engagement early in the process to find way to prevent future errors.

The work the Task Force set out for itself was truly revolutionary. Although the committee/task force structures have changed, I do not for a minute believe the goals, principles and values of the board have changed. I see a tremendous opportunity right here, right now, for the board to join the dialogue/conversation about responses to adverse medical events, along with other stakeholders, including physicians, plaintiffs and defendants' attorneys, insurers, risk managers, hospitals, patients, patient advocates and other health care providers/interested persons. I believe that all these stakeholders have the same goal: patient safety. Such dialogue works: I've convened and facilitated them, but without the medical board. Dialogues provide the opportunity to break down barriers between the regulators, such as the medical board, and the other stakeholders. The board has the opportunity to consider expanding and enhancing its role in promoting patient safety by creating a blame-free medical error/adverse event reporting system that encourages accountability, teamwork, learning and respect.

I have many ideas on how to structure what I hope will be a series of dialogues, which I will "blog" about soon. In the meantime, I would love the thoughts/ideas/suggestions of anyone reading this who is interested in this topic.