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IHI: Getting Surgeons to Embrace Safety

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 15, 2011

The fact of the matter is, "Surgeons are very busy people, being asked to do more and more with less and less time, see more patients," Healy says. "It's a whole different system than many of us are used to."

Weiner repeats a phrase he attributed to organizational consultant Charles Dwyer: "Never expect anyone to engage in a behavior that serves your values unless you give that person adequate reason to do so.” That means getting enough data to show them that not getting on board with routines, like checklists and time-outs, can result in harm to your patients.

And that's the take-home message. Healy stresses the importance of "getting that surgeon to think they can be part of the solution."

"You can say, 'Joe or Marylou, I need you to help make sure this policy works. How can we make it more effective?' When people are approached this way, I've never seen that fail."

Weiner and Healy encourage quality leaders to set times at the surgeons' convenience to meet, and put themselves in their shoes, doctors who now face many more, and stricter requirements and more demands on their time for less pay.

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