We just had a great session today with the pilots about crew resource management (or crisis resource management) which essentially is a way of thinking about a high stakes environment, who’s involved and how to manage the factors involved. Often this includes human factors and the goal is to reduce threats & errors.
It’s fascinating to hear from the aviation guys about their progress since we have so much to learn still in medicine. They were asking us if we have anything like “standard operating procedures” or protocols to follow for our acutely sick patients. We replied that we didn’t. We have general algorithms in our minds that we’ve committed to memory but it’s rare for someone to be actually going through a checklist in a crisis situation. The pilots were surprised to learn that we didn’t rely on such protocols or tools. There’s growing discussion about this in medicine in the literature and a recent book “Checklist manifesto” by Atul Gawande have started to address these concepts.
We watched this fascinating but shocking video of the first automated pilot program in an Airbus attempting to land. This is a key example of the value of human input despite the inevitability of human error in any task, as it’s been stated previously, “To err is human” but we just need to learn to manage these incidents.