Circulation 83,045 • Volume 23, No. 1 • Spring 2008   Issue PDF

Reader Examines Accident Related Traits

Colin McKinley

To the Editor

As I pilot I’m interested that anesthesia is trying to apply aviation principles to accident prevention. The FAA has been collecting accident reports for 60 years now, and the same accidents are still happening no matter what has been tried.

A few years ago a study was done to look at what personality traits contributed to accidents, and from this a series of tests were developed to look for these traits in student pilots.

I actually talked to David Gaba about trying to do the same thing for anesthesia, but the Gulag got too busy to work on it. Table 1 outlines the traits. There is a fine line between macho and anti-authority. About 80% of all accidents are anti-authority related.

It would be interesting to look at closed claims and see if this holds true for anesthesia. Since everyone is competing for residents, I doubt there would be support for psychological screening of residents.

I’m sure readers saw the recent article on the neurosurgery problems in Rhode Island. They seem to fall into the macho/anti-authority class.

Colin McKinley
Winston-Salem, NC

Table 1. The Five Antidotes
Hazardous Thought Antidote
“Don’t tell me.” “Follow the rules. They are usually right.”
“Do something—quickly!” “Not so fast. Think first.”
“It won’t happen to me.” “It could happen to me.”
“I can do it.” “Taking chances is foolish.”
“What’s the use?” “I’m not helpless.”