Patient Safety Interview: Lucian Leape
In May 2007, Sir Liam Donaldson, Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety, interviewed Professor Lucian Leape who is Adjunct Professor of Health Policy at Harvard School of Public Health in the USA.
About Professor Lucian Leape
Professor Lucian Leape is a physician and Adjunct Professor of Health Policy at Harvard School of Public Health, who has been very active in addressing the issues of patient safety and quality of care. In 2000, he testified before a subcommittee of the US Senate with his recommendations for improving medical safety.
Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard in 1988, he was Professor of Surgery and Chief of Paediatric Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine and the New England Medical Center. Dr. Leape is internationally recognized as a leader of the patient safety movement, starting with the publication in JAMA of his seminal article, Error in Medicine, in 1994. His subsequent research demonstrated the success of the application of systems theory to the prevention of adverse drug events. In addition, he has directed research into overuse and underuse of cardiovascular procedures. He has published over 100 papers on patient safety and quality of care.
He has been an outspoken advocate of the nonpunitive systems approach to the prevention of medical errors and he has talked and written widely about the need to make patient safety a national priority. He has testified many times before Congress and served on numerous public and private organizational boards and committees. Dr. Leape was one of the founders of the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Error, and the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Session on Medical Error. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Quality of Care in America Committee, which published "To Err is Human" in 1999 and "Crossing the Quality Chasm" in 2001.
Recent honours include the Distinguished Service Award of the American Paediatric Surgical Association, the Donabedian Award from the American Public Health Association, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator’s Award in Health Policy Research, and honorary fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He has been honoured with leadership awards from the American Society of Healthsystems Pharmacists, the American Pharmaceutical Association, and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. In 2003 he received the duPont Award for Excellence in Children’s Health Care. In 2004, he received the John Eisenberg Patient Safety Award and Modern Healthcare named him as one of the 100 most powerful people in health care.
Professor Leape is a graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Medical School. He trained in surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in paediatric surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.
"One of the most frustrating aspects of patient safety is the apparent inability of health care systems to learn from their mistakes. Tragic errors recur in new places over and over again. The solution to this problem is to investigate our errors and share lessons learned through a reporting system. The WHO Draft Guidelines for Adverse Event Reporting and Learning Systems provide the conceptual background information and practical advice for those who want to establish or improve a national reporting and learning system." Professor Lucian Leape.