Aviate. Navigate. Communicate. What Hospitals Can Learn from Pilots

Aviate. Navigate. Communicate. What Hospitals Can Learn from Pilots
“Could I have some water?" Gary bent his head closer. Apparently, my husband couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t remember ever being so thirsty, and I felt too weak to talk. We were in the Emergency Room because I had neutropenic fever, a condition that happens sometimes after chemo when a high fever indicates a low white blood cell count. It’s serious and can quickly become deadly. Gary had called Stanford at the first sign of my spiking fever, and he was told to get to my local ER. “It has to be from a bottle,” Gary said. “You can’t risk getting germs right now, and no one here can find any bottled water.” A team of hospital personnel was huddled around a screen on the other side of the room. I could hear them talking about the new computer system they had just adopted that day, and how confusing it was to use. Fingertips on keys. Whispered, urgent conversation. An exasperated husband. All I wanted was a drink of water. My husband and I are entrepreneurs. We’ve started, developed, and sold all kinds of businesses, from coin-op laundromats to a high-tech start up. One of our endeavors was a flight school. What’s interesting about flying is that there are check lists for everything. Every pilot, every airplane, every flight has a set of procedures designed to minimize the risk of potentially life-threatening mistakes. There’s also a slogan pilots memorize in case of emergency: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when an emergency comes from every direction. In the air, though, one rule is constant: a pilot’s first job is to fly the airplane, to aviate. No exceptions. Yes, pilots have other tasks and checklists, but if they’re not flying the airplane, none of
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