Gary Passama

Gary Passama retired as president and CEO of NorthBay Healthcare on March 31, 2017. An active blogger since 2010, here’s a collection of his work.

All Australians Do Not Look Alike

March 07, 2017

The Academy Awards show is always an over-the-top celebration. The preening Hollywood types don’t seem to understand that most movies from the past year will soon be relegated to the $4.99 DVD bin at Best Buy.

But I do enjoy DVD bin diving there.

Amid the artistic pretensions of auteurs and the political posturing of addled actors last week, two examples of avoidable mistakes were showcased. In fact, lessons for health care can come from those two gaffes.

The first occurred early in the show when tribute was being paid to deceased members of the Academy. When it came time to honor the memory of an Australian costume designer, the photo of a very alive Australian movie producer was shown. You would think someone would have double checked.  Apparently all Australians look alike.

The second, a much more glaring example, occurred near the end of the show when Best Picture was announced.  Warren Beatty, looking as plastic as ever, and Faye Dunaway, looking as lovely as she did years ago when she played Bonnie to Warren’s Clyde, announced the wrong Best Picture.

It really was not their fault. Warren read from the card he was handed by the CPAs from PriceWaterhouseCooper. Even though the card said “Emma Stone, La La Land,” and was clearly for a different category, Warren read it. He is an actor. Actors read the lines they are given. They are not supposed to think.

Somehow the CPAs made a mistake. It would seem to be a simple matter: Hand the presenters the correct card. With two CPAs, you think they would have a process in place to prevent such an egregious error.

Which brings up one of my rules to live by: Never trust a CPA in a tuxedo or designer gown. They look best in green lightshades.

It was a failure of a simple process that led to chaos at the Academy Awards. As much as we make fun of the backstabbing film industry, in health care too it is often the failure of doing the simple things correctly that leads to patient injuries.

When care givers do not wash their hands between patients, hospital-acquired infections are more likely to occur.  Medication errors happen when double checking does not occur. It is, more often than not, the failure to follow procedures when doing the simple things that patients are harmed.

NorthBay Healthcare’s new strategic plan contains the major goal of earning the trust of those who seek care from us. Earning that trust means we place a great emphasis on eliminating errors which may harm patients. Looking at our patient care processes and making changes where necessary will be important.

NorthBay Healthcare hospitals and medical group have a good record when it comes to preventing errors. It can be better. It will be better. 

I am certain the producers of last week’s Academy Awards performance had the expectation that there would be zero errors. That is our expectation as well.

All Australians do not look alike.



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