ISCOME 2015 Conference Theme

"The Golden Bridge: Communication and Patient Safety"
What is the purpose and goal of the ISCOME 2015 conference?

Medical errors are one of the leading medical causes of disability in the world. Institutional efforts to prevent such undesirable incidents are prevalent, but have not reduced them to satisfactory rates. One of the emerging themes is that the medical field cannot seem to resolve this problem on its own. Instead, interdisciplinary collaborations are needed to advance effective, evidence-based interventions that will eventually result in measurable improvements. Prof. Annegret Hannawa recently organized a grant-funded International Conference on Communicating Medical Error (COME 2013, see to stimulate such interdisciplinary dialogue. Almost 100 international scholars from eight disciplines and 17 countries attended the congress to discuss interdisciplinary ideas and perspectives for advancing safer care. The invited speakers collaborated in compiling a special issue in Journal of Public Health Research (see to manifest the conference discussions. The editorial of this special issue highlighted new insights that emerge from the collected articles, and identified central challenges for future research on medical error and patient safety. Building a “golden bridge” to develop strategic interdisciplinary research collaborations that pursue these concrete challenges is the core purpose and goal of the ISCOME 2015 conference. Influential international scholars from diverse disciplines and geographical regions will convene in Florence to further develop this rigorous discussion. The scholars will strategize innovative, impact-oriented, research-based solutions to promote safer care, with the ultimate goal of assisting providers and patients in competently preventing and responding to avoidable patient safety events.

What forces are at play now that create an opportunity for positive change on the issue?

Numerous national and international organizations across the world are developing initiatives to improve patient safety (e.g., WHO, AHRQ, ISQua, The Joint Commission). However, the contributive potential of these initiatives is limited in scope because their focus typically lies on system hazards rather than on inevitable human fallibility. Furthermore, their research teams often exclusively consist of medical professionals. Thus, the current research focus is too narrow, and the value of interdisciplinary contributions to the issue is not exhausted. The ISCOME 2015 conference fills these voids – it joins representatives from domineering international patient safety associations with leading researchers from relevant disciplines who will lend relevant interdisciplinary perspectives to the problem and collaboratively advance research initiatives that optimize impact and affect change.

Impact on Vulnerable Populations

The vulnerable population that is exposed to the threatening harm of medical errors consists not only of patient victims. Healthcare providers suffer comparable harm, commonly reacting in ways that are consistent with acute stress disorder, experiencing shock, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, shame, and self-doubt. Some develop lasting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder including flashbacks, sleep disturbance, and avoidance of associated situations. Still others eventually leave their profession and a few even commit suicide. Thus, medical errors severely and frequently compromise the well-being of both patients and providers across the world. The ISCOME 2015 conference will focus on evidence-based research collaborations that are needed to enhance our empirical understanding of the problem and its surrounding contextual factors, and to advance interventions that can effectively assist providers and patients in preventing and responding to medical errors.

Concrete Objectives for the ISCOME 2015 Conference

The ISCOME 2015 conference aims to accomplish two main objectives: (1) Knowledge integration and (2) knowledge generation. On the first track, the invited scholars will calibrate their interdisciplinary perspectives on medical error, and generate first draft outlines of joint publications on the intersections between their disciplines. Numerous collaborative papers will be initiated on this track, identifying how the disciplines can together inform areas of medical practice in which human error is common, particularly diagnosis, team conflict interactions, and handoffs. The second track of the meeting will entail the generation of new knowledge and empirical evidence to the field and put the interdisciplinary aspects into action. Participants will work together to shed a new interdisciplinary perspective on their existing data, and generate grant proposals that contribute new evidence to the field. These two tracks, knowledge integration and knowledge generation, will be initiated in Florence and continued in ongoing interdisciplinary collaborations.

Outputs of the ISCOME 2015 Conference

  • Articles for Peer-Reviewed Publication
  • Articles for General Publication
  • Strategic / Organizational Plan
  • White Papers
  • Grant Proposals

Contributions of these Outputs toward the ISCOME 2015 Conference Goals

  • Generate/disseminate new knowledge/research
  • Develop or disseminate solutions to existing problems
  • Form new networks/alliances for problem solving
  • Enable emergence of new global initiatives through existing organizations

ISCOME 2015 Outputs Dissemination Strategy

The outputs of the ISCOME 2015 Conference will be disseminated in peer-reviewed publications, articles for the general publications, and white papers. Given the representativeness of the attendees, the participating associations may function as outlets for the white papers. A strategic distribution plan will also be discussed at the meeting, given that each participant will contribute valuable ideas and access for the distribution of the generated knowledge both to the science and practice ends of the knowledge chain.