Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Science and the Art of Medicine

This past week, I have done a lot of reflecting on the balance of standardization in healthcare processes and allowing experienced physicians and nurses to make decisions “in the moment” for their patients. My reflection was prompted by several conversations I’ve had with my colleagues about their challenges with creating this balance. While standardized processes are incredibly valuable, it’s difficult to standardize certain aspects of care, like the frequency of going into a room to check on a patient. We talked about the role of experts in healthcare and how they have to make decisions based on each individual patient.

In the early 20th century, when modern healthcare was still in its infancy, healthcare leaders began to realize that it was inappropriate for professionals to make treatment decisions that went against rigorously-researched best practices. Patients needed the assurance that their healthcare providers would follow scientific evidence and give them the best chance of recovering from their disease or injury. The Flexner Report of 1910 created standards for medical education and was seminal in creating a workforce of physician and nurse scientists, who were able to read the literature and distinguish facts from conjecture. The so-called evidence-based medicine movement began in the 1980’s and has continued to steer the industry away from autonomous experts making decisions however they saw fit.

At a meeting this week, a colleague was articulating the fact that some physicians are unclear in their role now that we have shifted towards becoming more standardized and protocolized. He also raised the concern that we may have gone too far in undervaluing experience.

My belief is that when we standardize what should be standardized, we create time for professionals to think about more complex decisions that cannot be standardized. When done correctly, standardization should be liberating for professionals, giving them the opportunity to use their experience as they search for answers to more complicated problems.

What do you think? Please let me know by responding to this blog.

Healthcare Security and Safety Week

Please join me in recognizing the GBMC security staff as this week is Healthcare Safety and Security Week (Oct. 13-19). This is a great time to thank those who keep us safe every day!

It is no easy task to protect the GBMC family on our campus, but it’s one that the GBMC security team does well, around the clock. They can be seen walking or stationed throughout our medical center from the emergency department to labor and delivery. Thank you to our security staff for their hard work and commitment, and the diligence they display in the practice of their profession.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

I want to thank Dave Hynson, GBMC’s Chief Information Officer, and his team for working hard to educate us about the threat of attacks on our computer systems and for continually working to minimize the harm from a potential attack.

Our ITS team has made great strides in defending our networks while preserving the efficient delivery of healthcare services. As technology and threats change, they are continually adjusting.

Remember…Don’t click links unless you are sure they are safe; don’t go to websites you aren’t familiar with, and ask IT for guidance if something doesn’t quite “seem right.” Let’s work together to keep our healthcare system safer from cybercrime. Thank you!

International Infection Prevention Week

This week is also International Infection Prevention Week (Oct. 13-19) and it’s a time to highlight the importance of infection prevention and raise awareness of everyone’s role in protecting the public from healthcare-acquired infections. Because of the significant rise in measles cases nationally, this year’s theme is: Vaccines Are Everybody’s Business.

Our Infection Prevention team members are healthcare professionals whose mission is to protect patients, visitors, volunteers, employees, and providers from healthcare-associated infections.

Please join me in thanking our Infection Prevention Department on a job well done!

Maryland and Our Nation Lose a Leader

On behalf of the GBMC HealthCare family I want to extend our condolences to the family, friends, and all of those touched by Congressman Elijah Cummings. He was a leader for Baltimore, Maryland, and our country. His advocacy on behalf of our community is irreplaceable.

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