Consider, for a moment, that you are a new physician. A patient, who is a lifelong smoker, comes to your clinic complaining of shortness of breath, and after conducting several tests you diagnose him with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Relying on your training, you prescribe medications, arrange for follow-up visits and describe activities that can help him better manage his breathing problem. You understand that even light activities — taking a shower, making breakfast, taking the dogs outside — can be challenging, making it difficult for him to breathe. These episodes can lead to great anxiety and possibly an ambulance ride to the hospital, with all its risks, stress and costs.

Despite all your efforts, the patient ends up in the emergency department two weeks later. Could you have prevented it? 

This post is from Dr. Peter Pronovost, Senior Vice President for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine and Co-founder of Doctella. This is an excerpt reposted from his blog, Voices for Safer Care. Please visit his website to read the full article.