Table 1

Application of aviation safety principles to medicine

Aviation safety principleApplication to medicine
Error-free environments do not existDesign of systems to absorb errors through redundancy, standardisation and checklists
In most cases, errors do not result from negligence or discipline related problems but from faulty system design. “Pilot error is not all pilot”Movement from placing blame to designing safe processes and procedures, i.e. applying a systems approach
Mishap reporting is aimed to encourage open and full reportingAssurance of full immunity while implementing a non-punitive approach
Adverse event definition is a leading factor in organisational learning: major accidents are viewed as the “tip of the iceberg”Debriefing of all events, including near misses, that have learning potential. Focus on the severity of the potential risk rather than on the severity of the event’s final outcome is more conducive to establishing effective prevention programmes
The prevention of accidents is a long term ongoing process rather than an episodic effortInstitutionalisation of a permanent programme for risk identification, analysis, and dissemination of the lessons learnt throughout the professional community