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ER Docs Learn from a Formula One Team

What could a team of medical doctors possibly learn about practicing medicine from a Formula One racing team? If the doctors remain teachable, maybe they could learn a lot. That's what happened at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. After completing a twelve-hour emergency transplant, the head doctor watched a Formula One race. As a car pulled into the pit, he noted that the crew changed the tires, filled it with fuel, cleared the air intakes, and sent it off in seven seconds.

It struck him that it often took thirty minutes for his team of doctors and nurses to untangle and unplug all the wires and tubes and transfer a patient from surgery to ICU. He wondered if a racing team could teach a hospital how to run an emergency room.

Imagine the pushback from the trained medical staff when the McLaren and Ferrari racing teams showed up to advise them on how to improve their emergency services. After all, what did they know about surgery or patient care? Nothing. But what did they know about speeding up complex processes? Everything.

As a result, after visiting with the Formula One racing team, the hospital staff initiated major changes, including better training, new procedures, a step-by-step checklist covering each stage of the handover, and a diagram so that everyone knew their exact physical position as well as their precise task. It almost halved handover errors.

The hospital team's problems were solved by a group of people who knew nothing about the practice of emergency room medicine. But the Formula One team's expertise allowed them to easily spot what the hospital tribe had missed. And the medical team had the humility and teachability to learn from the outsiders.

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