About Author: Dr M Manivannan is an associate professor of Department of Applied Mechanics, Biomedical Engineering Group in IIT Madras.
For competent engineers, each error in their design, be it a system or a human error, is a potential treasure for a new invention, and therefore design improvements. The highest order of human safety in Aviation and Nuclear industries is the result of this process of improvement based on errors. Although these engineering industries have inspired patient safety systems in many other countries, India is yet to take even first baby steps.
"Patient Safety First" has become a new mantra in the western medical society. It is more than just rhetoric and it has become the national mission for many countries. They have identified and adopted patient safety practices and strategies and shown huge improvements. WHO has even suggested step-by-step processes towards incremental patient-safety. Countries have gone ahead in ensuring patient safety.
Indian Medical Community is still in denial mode. Medical error cannot be denied, it is inherent in the design of medical education and practice. The trial-error method, the fundamental method of medical skills learning - diagnosing or treating, is fatally flawed. The doctor or trainee repeats their attempts,with some supervision, until success, or until he or she stops trying. There is no trainee doctor who has not made errors. Same is true for budding engineers, however the way the errors are given importance is different in each system of learning. A smart engineering student or researcher makes a theory behind the error and publishes in reputed journals so that others can avoid it.