• Introduction to the Symposium

    In his introduction as chair of the symposium, Richard L. Abbott, MD, AAO Secretary for Global Alliances, explained how current patient safety initiatives emphasize the reporting, analysis, and prevention of medical errors that could lead to adverse events. Medical errors – for example, wrong site, wrong patient, wrong surgery – occur much too frequently, with 1 in 10 patients in all of medicine suffering from serious complications.

    The first step in improving patient safety is to recognize that a problem exists. Using data from the Academy’s Intelligent Research in Sight (IRIS®) Registry and other sources, we are now able to more accurately identify patient safety problems. Now is the time to find a way forward – to identify the safety issue, to determine what is required to fix the problem, and how to best use current and future technologies to find solutions.

    Although registries, like IRIS, will capture many of the medical errors that have occurred, it is possible that this number may represent only the tip of the iceberg. It has been suggested that having a system that also captures the near misses, as well as the actual errors committed, will enhance our ability to improve patient safety. In addition, it is important to recognize that behavior modification through policy mandates may also play an important role in reducing medical error.