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Leading with civility – part 3 of 4

Nov 11, 2021

(Over Oct. and Nov., I am sharing a series of posts on the topic of civility.)

A recent MIT study shows that commercial air travel safety has improved tremendously over the last few decades: now one death per 7.9 million passenger boardings compared to one per 1.3 million from 1988-1997.

And so, it’s safer to fly than to drive. 

Their secret?

Complete naked honesty without any repercussions whatsoever—any kind of mistakes, miscalculations, mishaps, negligence, or faux pas are fully disclosed without reprimand.

The lessons learnt are freely shared amongst all departments and companies. After all, concealment is the biggest risk of all!

Wow, how diametrically opposite that philosophy is compared to our medical culture.

In a world of litigation, college complaints, 360 degree peer reviews, and top-down bureaucracy, many clinicians sadly resort to just checking boxes of standard operating protocols to “CYA” (Cover Your Anatomy)!

If we could reshape our work culture to be more “safe”—such that mistakes, errors, omissions, or deviations from protocols were openly but nonjudgmentally discussed and improved upon—I wonder how that could improve not just work morale and clinician wellbeing, but also malpractice rates!

That is no easy task.

But as medical leaders, we can at least start with our own micro-environments to ensure total safety and civility for each team member—weaknesses, shortcomings, or struggles and all.

Your colleague,

Dr. Wing Lim

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