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View Diary: Security guard's gun accidentally shoots student (186 comments)

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  •  Look at the science of error prevention. (8+ / 0-)

    In my own field of medicine, we are finally coming around to recognize that no safety system that depends on 100% perfect performance from human beings to avoid calamities has a prayer in hell of working.

    When I went to medical school 30 years ago, it was customary tradition to browbeat, abuse and generally humiliate medical students, to torment them with guilt at any minor error, and to assume that the combination of terror, guilt and shame would assure perfect performance and perfect patient safety going forward.

    I think we all know how that worked out. Medical students are an unusually capable group of people: highly intelligent, very hard working, very competitive, absolutely dedicated to avoiding mistakes, very highly educated, intensively trained. Yet, even with this carefully selected group of highly motivated people, catastrophic mistakes happen, with depressing frequency.

    We now know that any system depending on 100% perfect human performance, even from carefully selected and trained individuals, is absolutely certain to fail. Only by putting into place multiple overlapping systems of best practices, optimal workflow, redundant checks and rechecks, are we able to reduce dangerous error to a very low level. Never, mind you, to zero. Where human beings are involved, that's not possible. Just to a very low level.

    When you're taking millions of minimally trained to untrained gun owners, the resulting carnage should be no surprise. And even highly trained and experienced gun owners will screw up with depressing frequency.

    It's just who we are as human beings, and one of many reasons why I personally think our lax approach to firearms possession is grotesque and immoral.

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