Public event "Perspectives on medical error"

The role of communication in the eventuality of medical errors is of great public interest. This public event will interface four renowned personalities in the field to confront their personal perspectives on this topic area. USI Professor Annegret Hannawa will represent the communication competence perspective in this stimulating discussion. The medical perspective will be represented by Prof. Dr. Albert Wu, a practicing internist and professor of medicine, health policy and management, and Prof. Dr. Marcia Childress, a professor of medical education. WHO Patients for Patient Safety champion Brian Stafford, who has experienced  repeated events of iatrogenic harm in his family environment, will represent the patient perspective on the panel. At the end of the discussion, the presenters will answer questions from the audience. The evening will be moderated by Paolo Attivissimo.


Panelists: Prof. Dr. Annegret Hannawa, Institute of Communication and Health (ICH), Università della Svizzera italiana;  Prof. Dr. Albert Wu, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, USA; Prof. Dr. Marcia Childress, School of Medicine, University of Virginia, USA;  Mr. Brian Stafford, WHO Patients for Patient Safety Champion, Australia.



Albert W. Wu

Albert W. Wu is a practicing internist and Professor of Health Policy and Management and Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and director of the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research and the Hopkins DEcIDE center for comparative effectiveness research. He received BA and MD degrees from Cornell University, and completed Internal Medicine residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital and UC San Diego. He was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at UCSF and received an MPH from UC Berkeley. His research and teaching focus on patient outcomes and quality of care. He has studied the handling of medical errors since 1998, and has published influential papers including “Do house officers learn from their mistakes” in JAMA in 1991, and “Medical error: the second victim” in the BMJ. He has over 320 published papers and developed an award-winning educational video on disclosure “Removing insult from injury: disclosing adverse events.” He was a member of the Institute of Medicine committee on identifying and preventing medication errors, and was Senior Adviser for Patient Safety to WHO in Geneva. He is editor of the book “The Value of Close Calls in Improving Patient Safety,” published by the Joint Commission in 2011, and teaches a series of courses on measurement, quality of care and patient safety.



Marcia Day Childress

Marcia Day Childress is Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities) and David A. Harrison Distinguished Medical Educator at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. As director of Programs in Humanities within the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, she oversees a humanities curriculum for medical students, teaches courses in literature and medicine, and leads medical humanities and arts programming. She also directs the Medical Center Hour, the medical school’s weekly public forum on current issues and controversies in medicine and society, including medical error. Her research interests include narrative in medicine, interprofessional learning, and reflective education. She writes on literature and on uses of the humanities and arts in medical education and in public reflection on medical matters. She received a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Virginia.



Brian Stafford

Brian Stafford declares himself to be an ordinary member of the general public without a medical background. As a consequence of a serious illness he and his family experienced repeated events of iatrogenic harm. At that stage he learned firsthand about disclosure of medical error. On the death of that close family member Brian turned his attentions and community volunteering to improve the delivery of the health services in his own country. He later became one of the original people involved in the inaugural Patient for Patient Safety conducted by the World Health Organisation in Australia. He is now accredited by WHO as a Patient for Patient Champion. His volunteering in health related fields sees him sitting as the community representative with a diverse range of health service providers that include: a human research ethics committee; trauma patient transportation; community nursing; advisory group to Government of future health needs of his city, etc. In his paid employment he works within the local Court system as the State Manager for a children’s contact service.



Annegret F. Hannawa

Annegret F. Hannawa is Senior Assistant Professor of Health Communication at the University of Lugano’s  Institute of Communication and Health (ICH). Prior to joining the faculty at USI, she served as Assistant Professor of Health Communication and Empirical Research Methods at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. Professor Hannawa’s research focuses on effective health care delivery and positive health outcomes that can be achieved through competent interpersonal interaction. Particularly, she is interested in the role of communication in preventing and disclosing medical error. Her most recent research examines physicians’ verbal and nonverbal error disclosure styles to patients that facilitate positive and negative physiological (e.g., patient and physician well-being), psychological (e.g., rumination, distress, feelings of guilt), relational (e.g., trust, forgiveness, satisfaction), organizational (e.g., litigation), and systemic (e.g., doctor-switching) health outcomes. Professor Hannawa’s studies have been published in a variety of distinguished journals such as Health Communication, Patient Education and Counseling, Communication Studies, Communication Methods and Measures, Swiss Medical Weekly, Journal of Family Communication, Western Journal of Communication, Violence and Victims, and Therapeutische Umschau. Three of her investigations have received “Top Paper Awards” by the U.S. National Communication Association