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Evidence and the patient's role in safer care
  1. David P Stevens
  1. Correspondence to Dr David P Stevens, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Care, 30 Lafayette Street, Lebanon, NH 03766, USA; david.p.stevens{at}

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I will never forget the frigid snowy February day when I was to make the 30 min flight to Boston from the island where I live. This local airline uses nine-seat twin-engine planes, the last of which came off the assembly line in the mid-1980s. The ninth passenger sits in the co-pilot's seat. The temperature was subfreezing—where ice formation on the wings is a safety concern because it reduces the plane's lift.

I was the only passenger that day. The young pilot walked through the waiting area with a window scraper, the kind I had used to clean the ice off my car windows that morning. She smiled and said, ‘gotta de-ice this puppy.’ I must have blanched because she later walked back into the waiting area and nodded toward me again. ‘Don't worry doc, I'm going too.’ I assumed this was intended to reassure me. And it did. I think. It …

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