David Ring, Julie Adams, Julie Samora, Robin Kamal

AOA Critical Issues: A Culture of Safety Across All Orthopaedic Professional Endeavors

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • General Medicine
  • Surgery

Abstract Medical professionals strive for a culture of safety in which error is anticipated, systems are designed to catch an error before it causes harm, and each event is an opportunity for specific clinicians and the system they work in to improve. A culture of safety is based on behavioral ethics, which recognizes that the automatic functions of the human mind can lead good people to misstep, and it incorporates tools such as checklists that embody critical thinking in order to help limit missteps and associated harm. Although the discussion surrounding a culture of safety often focuses on patient care, the social contract between physicians and society involves expectations that physicians will use their expertise to promote the public good in all of their professional endeavors. For example, lapses in professional conduct in the management of conflicts of interest and in ethical marketing have led to restrictions in physician self-regulation. Orthopaedic surgeons can cultivate a culture of safety and a growth mindset across all aspects of the profession, including media coverage of musculoskeletal illness, surgeon participation in informational media (e.g., podcasts and blogs), the marketing of oneself or one’s practice, practice patterns and variations, academic discourse, expert legal testimony, the development and implementation of policy and law, and commercial ventures. Systems that anticipate the human potential for missteps; create tools, tactics, and structures to limit missteps and associated harm; and support surgeons and their teams in all professional endeavors can contribute to the effective and fulfilling promotion of the public good.

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