Many have pointed out how anesthesiologists have reduced malpractice via systems to reduce medical error. Can this model be applied to primary care? Medical Economics takes a look:

Even those who say that such safety strategies are applicable elsewhere acknowledge that anesthesiologists did start out with certain . . . well, advantages.

A major one is the “controllability of the environment” in which they generally work, says anesthesiologist Allan S. Frankel, director of the office of patient safety at Partners HealthCare, in Boston, and a faculty member of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement, a research and educational organization in Cambridge, MA. “Anesthesiologists take care of one patient at a time in a very controlled setting,” says Frankel. That limited focus, in effect, enables them to zero in on environmental problems in a very precise way.

The “limited-focus” factor also benefits the specialty in another way, Frankel says: Unlike other medical disciplines that “have to know a ton of stuff about a lot of different diseases,” anesthesiologists “have to know a lot about a few things.” That intense-but-narrow focus makes solving clinical problems easier than it might otherwise be.

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