Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Social media's role in transparency and learning

A surgery went very wrong at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) last week. A patient went in for one procedure and ended up having the procedure performed on the wrong body part. To the hospital’s credit there are no excuses being offered, after all there’s no excuse that could justify the mistake. Rather BIDMC is taking a more human approach and social media is playing a large role.

Paul Levy, author of the blog Running a Hospital and CEO of BIDMC shared on his blog an email that was circulated to all BIDMC staff after the event. The surgeon and his team acknowledged and accepted the mistake and apologized to the patient. Readers have offered thoughtful comments and shared their own personal lessons. But the most compelling story is BIDMC’s willingness to publicly share their mistake, to let others learn from it and to being completely transparent about the entire ordeal.

Without social media this couldn’t have happened. This mistake would have been one more in a series, covered up by legal departments and offering no learning experiences. Paul Levy has done a great service for his community. He’s opened another line of communication and has encouraged others to learn from the story. If social media can help us all be a little more transparent, to put our pride behind us and share our stories so that others can leave more knowledgeable after reading them than we all stand to gain from it.

Image by ortizmj12

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