Much has been said about how medicine should strive to emulate the enviable safety record of the aviation industry. This has led to a thorough examination of how the two “industries” compare and contrast.
One of the more interesting comparisons was published in the MJA:
It is said the medical profession should learn from the aviation industry, which has a much better safety record. This is possibly because pilots get a mandatory 8 hours’ sleep. They also have to rest between shifts, for longer than the hours worked. Pilots do everything in duplicate to ensure accuracy. Most importantly, the pilots know that if their passengers are going to die, they are going to die too. So, I think it is high time that medicine looks into emulating the aviation industry.
However – before we doctors start to feel too downtrodden, we should remember what we do better than the aviation industry:
For instance, all airline passengers (possibly except those in the front with the free French wine) are expected to exit the plane in the same condition as they entered. In medicine, we expect that they will leave in better condition. In this regard at least, the airlines should learn from us.
And, of course, it is this altruistic aspect of our work that renders too strict a comparison futile.
What about this idea of fitting your own oxygen mask before helping others? Just imagine if all doctors treated themselves first and then looked after the young, old and disabled.
- Nair BR. Flying and medicine: mutual lessons. MJA 2008; 189 (11/12): 676