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Medical Safety: Lessons from Space

Summary By: Kevin Fong

Kevin Fong is an astrophysicist, astronaut and anaesthetist with an interest in medical error and safety. In this talk he focuses on lessons learnt from his time at NASA which can be applied to medical practice. Fong believes that key to safer practice is in the collection of accurate data. He outlines some aspects of the famous communications between Sully Sullenberger (pilot) and the Le Gardia air-traffic control tower as Sullenberger miraculously lands a commercial airline on New York’s Hudson River – Fong’s point is not in the words said or in the calmness of the communications, but that we can go back and analyse every word spoken because the data is collected so accurately.

He goes on to discuss some of the failures surrounding both the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia accident’s. More importantly he stresses not so much the lessons learnt but the lessons forgotten and the need to ensure organisational memory. We only protect ourselves and our patients through technology and the systems of operation we create.

The Podcast

The Slides

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