Today was a sunny spring day in Pittsburgh. The conference is being held in the David L. Lawrence convention center - where 4 months ago a 20x60 foot slab of concrete fell 30 feet to the street below; something about a dangling cherry-picker. After a bit of retrofitting, things are better than new (hopefully).

Michael DeVita kicked off the conference today with a look at how Medical Emergency Teams are evolving into Rapid Response Systems - more comprehensive safety systems that go beyond METs to better address patient safety. Hugh MacLeod spoke about how physicians are trained in silos, only to be released into a real world dominated by "soft spaces" where organizational silos must coordinate and interact to deliver effective care.

There were also several presentations on the afferent arm (that gathers and analyzes patient data, triggering an intervention) and the efferent arm (the intervention itself). There was much discussion on what data to gather and how and when to trigger an intervention, with many examples of practice around the world.

The most dramatic presentation was from Helen Haskell, President of Mothers Against Medical Errors. She started her talk by introducing the audience to numerous children who where the victims of preventable adverse events. Never before have I seen the consequences of lapses in patient safety brought home in such a personal way. While Helen was very professional, I couldn't help but get misty eyed. Her presentation was a reminder of what the stakes really are.

After 17 pages of notes, it is clear that there are innumerable opportunities for new and innovative products around the point of care in hospitals. It was also a sobering reminder of how "status quo" oriented both providers and vendors can be when faced with innovative change.

Pictured right is the course director, Michael DeVita, MD opening the conference.