Air-traffic-control methods could aid patient safety

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

An Air Force medic with aviation experience has proposed that principles from a modified air-traffic control system be implemented in hospitals to keep track of patients and medications during handovers and shift changes.

air-traffic-controlPhoto by moogs via Flickr

In a small-scale experiment involving senior medical students and mock casualties, those following the air-traffic methodology had fewer errors and lost track of less information.

The adapted method relies on centralized information and regular updates.

Air traffic controllers use a method in which each aircraft is represented by a flight progress strip. Multiple strips are stacked in order of priority within a bay representing a unique stage of flight. Reprioritization regularly occurs for faster aircraft or those that require expedited throughput for emergency or other reasons such as low fuel or weather. Flight progress strips are moved from bay to bay as aircraft move from one stage of flight to another.

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