Air France 447 and clinical chemistry

I became aware of an article that discusses the crash of Air France 447. Since airline safety is always used as a reference for patient safety, one can ask what one can learn from this event. According to the article and comments to the Wachter blog, pilot error – specifically panic and decision paralysis in the face of stress were important factors (formally the Yerkes-Dodson law). Now, clinical chemists don’t face the acute stress that results from threats to personal survival – such as loss of an airspeed indicator at 37,000 feet. However, there is a less acute form of stress that affects clinical chemists – the pressure to release products. This can lead to products that harm patients. When bad decisions are made under the pressure of this stress, one can’t blame “management” (the source of the stress). It’s up to each individual to make the right decision.

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