Time Magazine Highlights Pilot Sully Sullenberger on the topic of Ebola

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Medicine Needs a Higher Authority

Quality and safety oversight of the medical field is too fractured, and could benefit from an FAA-like agency

For the last several weeks, I have been watching the haphazard response to the appearance of Ebola in the U.S. through the eyes of a professional pilot. With limited federal control over matters related to public health, elected officials around the country are rushing to enact emergency measures to prevent Ebola’s spread, resulting in major disagreements about how best to do that. We saw the limits of that approach in New Jersey, and then in Maine, when the first person subjected to forced isolation called her treatment “inhumane” and defied quarantine orders, setting off a debate among public health experts, civil liberties groups and even the White House.

I have devoted my entire professional life to the pursuit of the safety of the public. Aviation and medicine are both high-stakes endeavors with little margin for error. All complex systems are different, but they all abide by similar rules and need a coordinated system of protocols and uniformity to bring into play under situations that can be very different. Over many decades, aviation has developed a systems approach to manage the complexity and interrelatedness of an endeavor that involves inherent risk, and an effective culture of safety that can, in substantive ways, be transferred to medicine.

 

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Sully Sullenberger
Sully Sullenberger
Captain "Sully" Sullenberger has been dedicated to the pursuit of safety his entire adult life. While he is best known for serving as Captain during what has been dubbed the "Miracle on the Hudson," Sullenberger is a safety expert, speaker, and author. He currently serves on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Advisory Committee for Automation in Transportation, and still flies privately.

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