Humanizing the Morbidity and Mortality Conference.
Morbidity and mortality conferences (MMCs) are a long-held legacy institution in academic medicine that enable medical providers and hospital administrators to learn from systemic and individual errors, thereby leading to improved medical care. Originally, this forum had 1 major role-education. The MMC evolved and a second key role was added: quality improvement. In the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, a second evolution-one that will humanize the MMC-is required. The pandemic emphasizes the need to use MMCs not only as a place to discuss errors but also as a place for medical providers to reflect on lives lost. The authors' review of the literature regarding MMCs indicates that most studies focus on enabling MMCs to become a forum for quality improvement, while none have emphasized the need to humanize MMCs to decrease medical provider burnout and improve patient satisfaction. Permitting clinicians to be human on the job requires restructuring the MMC to provide a space for reflection and, ultimately, defining a new purpose and charge for the MMC. The authors have 3 main recommendations. First, principles of humanism such as compassion, empathy, and respect, in particular, should be incorporated into traditional MMCs. Second, shorter gatherings devoted to giving clinicians the opportunity to focus on their humanity should be arranged. Third, an MMC focused entirely on the human aspects of medical care should be periodically arranged to provide an outlet for storytelling, artistic expression, and reflection. Humanizing the MMC-a core symposium in clinical medicine worldwide-could be the first step in revitalizing the spirit at the heart of medicine, one dedicated to health and healing. This spirit, which has been eroding as the field of medicine becomes increasingly corporate in structure and mission, is as essential during peaceful times in health care as during a pandemic.
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