Little Girl's Death Allegedly Linked to Medical Errors: Former Fighter Pilots Offer a Solution

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While recuperating from burns at a prominent children's center, 18-month-old Josie needlessly died due to medical errors. The Baltimore Sun reported Josie's cause of death a result of severe dehydration, ultimately leading to cardiac arrest. The children's center, which is consistently ranked in the top three children's hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, allegedly overlooked the warning signs and series of events leading up to her death. Fortunately, there is a company that offers a pioneering approach to patient safety, which may prevent tragedies such as these.

LifeWings Partners LLC offers a groundbreaking safety and communication system originating from a proven aviation-based model known as Crew Resource Management (CRM). CRM was first introduced to flight crews in the early 1980's to help reduce errors and improve communication among teams in the air.

Now, LifeWings offers health care organizations the same safety system that has made commercial aviation so safe and reliable. LifeWings is implementing CRM in health care facilities throughout the United States to minimize error and prevent sentinel events. The LifeWings approach is a combination of teamwork training and implementation of standardized Hardwired Safety Tools SM (procedures, protocols, checklists) that are customized based on the needs of the facility.

One component of the LifeWings program is classroom training, which focuses on recognizing the warning signs of adverse situations. The section also teaches health care teams how to identify, communicate, and take action when a "red flag" situation occurs. As a team, the participants review case studies and determine the warning signs of an impending adverse event.

According to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, poor communication remains at the top of the list as the root cause of sentinel events. Most physicians and staff have not been adequately trained in the skills needed to effectively communicate. LifeWings works on building these communication and teamwork skills to reduce the chance of error.

However, some in the health care industry are reluctant to invest in this innovative approach because of perceived cost and an organization's bottom line. Fortunately, LifeWings' clients do not have to tradeoff patient safety for profit. Richard Clark, Vice President of LifeWings says, "If only one patient-harming event could be avoided it would cover the cost of this kind of training many times over.”

Patricia Murafetis, the Assistant Director of Medicine at Coney Island Hospital (New York, NY), who recently participated in the LifeWings training said, "Do it! You'll be surprised how avoiding errors in health care is so similar to avoiding mishaps in aviation."

To learn how to use aviation-based strategies in a health care setting there is a new book out titled, "Crew Resource Management Training: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety." The book, co-authored by LifeWings President, Steve Harden, Dr. Rhea Seddon and Dr. Drew Gaffney (both active physicians and former NASA astronauts), is available at

About LifeWings Partners LLC

LifeWings Partners LLC was founded by a former U.S. Navy Top Gun instructor and commercial airline pilot. The firm specializes in applying aviation-based teamwork training and safety tools to help health care facilities save patient lives and reduce costs. The firm has helped over 50 facilities nationwide provide better care to their patients. Measurable results are found in all LifeWings initiatives, including one hospital that experienced a 43% improvement in their Observed to Expected mortality figures. The firm also conducts Leadership Development workshops for health care executives and leaders.


Richard Clark, Vice President, LifeWings Partners LLC


9198 Crestwyn Hills Drive

Memphis, TN 38125


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