But don’t back away from making a decision.
Leading a journey to eliminate preventable patient harm is a critical part of my work. I have learned important lessons that I apply not only to decisions in the hospital but also in my private life and in how I think.
Most important is an understanding that we all will make errors throughout our day and throughout our professional and private lives. In order to understand human error, we need to understand the way we think.
We all make errors; it is an essential component of the human condition. The more we plan, research, seek advice and practice safety behaviors, the less likely we are to err, but we always need to be positioned to manage that inevitability.
Obviously, we want to steer clear of an error characterized by high consequence and high probability. A consequence may only have a 1/1,000 probability, but unfortunately that individual will suffer 100% of the injury or other negative outcome.
The challenge of the COVID pandemic has been significant. My hospital, Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, maintained the highest cohort of COVID-19 patients in Virginia for months. One in three patients in our facility was infected with the virus for a period of that time. During all of this, we’ve been very successful in safe operations. We have been able to protect our patients and our staff through all our normal activities, operations and care necessary for our non-COVID population.
Everything in my past has contributed to my performance today. The chain of command structure instilled during my military service coupled with my training during the Cold War in Europe was invaluable. I had extensive training in military operations in a chemical and biological environment which is applicable to what we are now experiencing on the civilian side of this pandemic.
I rely heavily on the leadership training I received as a Physicians Executive MBA student at Auburn. Never be afraid or back away from making a decision. Spend time knowing yourself and your leadership style. Use that along with your support team and spend the time and energy to always prepare for consequences of an error.
There is no shame in a mistake, but you should hold yourself accountable if you’re not prepared when an error occurs.
Dr. Raymond L. McCue
Auburn PEMBA, 2012
Chief Medical Officer
Chesapeake Regional Healthcare