Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Human as hero

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 22 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b238
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

    Speaking last week at a lecture in his honour hosted by the National Patient Safety Agency, James Reason, the world expert on human error, said he was shifting his focus from “human as hazard” to “human as hero,” a species capable of heroic attention to detail. The very next day ex-fighter pilot Chelsey B Sullenberger became America’s perfect hero with his textbook landing of a stricken passenger plane on the Hudson River.

    The lecturer was Atul Gawande, surgeon, writer, and global champion of patient safety. He held the packed hall spellbound. “I think of medicine as a test of our ability to manage extreme complexity,” he …

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