Morning Read: Pilot, doctor and patient safety advocate say we need an NTSB for health

8:17 am by | 1 Comments

A pilot, a doctor, and a patient safety advocate have proposed a National Transportation Safety Board for patients to reduce high rates of medical errors and chronic waste of resources. The paper highlights key similarities between healthcare and aviation: “[H]igh risk and complexity, dependency on human performance factors, and the potential to generate highly reliable performance only if basic safety principles are provided by invisible support systems.” Dr. Charles R. Denham, founder and chairman of the Texas Medical Institute of Technology, wrote the paper with Pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger; actor turned patient safety advocate Dennis Quaid; and aviation safety expert John J. Nance.

Complying with data security regulations is giving a false sense of security, according to a a survey of 350 senior health information technology and data security officers. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society survey suggests that physician practices are the most vulnerable to a security breach.

Allscripts had a bad day yesterday with a disappointing Q1 earnings report, a resulting drop in stock price and the firing of chairman Phil Pead. Allscripts customers waiting on an updated EHR–due in September–may lose confidence in the company and decide to look to a competitor.


Bad news from the FDA about Repligen’s pancreatic imaging agent caused the company’s shares to drop 40%. The FDA says a complete response letter is in the works.

Experts in big data and big biology said the life sciences industry needs to focus on scalability, trustability, profitablity and engagability to achieve the goals of quantified health. Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, discussed these ideas at a event this week in San Diego.


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Veronica Combs

By Veronica Combs

I was the editor in chief at I started writing and editing in the print world and joined a dotcom right before the 2000 crash. I was at TechRepublic/CNET/BNET for 7 years. Health was more interesting to me than the latest version of Windows, so I left for a startup tracking prescription drug news. A year later, MedTrackAlert was acquired by HealthCentral, so I shifted to audience research. The fun of daily news and interviewing smart people brought me to MedCity News in February 2012.
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Discussions of this strategy for making health care safer universally ignore the fundamental difference between flying and medicine. Pilots and passengers have a shared common interest. Doctors and patients have a conflict of interest. Pilots want to know what went wrong in order to protect themselves because they can go down with the plane. Doctors cover up what went wrong in order to protect themselves. In medicine adverse events are reported accurately only 2% of the time according to the US Department of Health and Human Services and other studies. The root cause analysis of the airline industry is of no use when 98% of the time the medical equivalent of a black box has been intentionally destroyed. There is a way to gather the data that no one in medicine will report, but no one is discussing that.