Could the medical corollary of the sticking pedal happen here?

Could the medical corollary of Toyota's sticking pedal problem happen here?

You bet.

All the more reason to continually lead and invest in our own culture of healthcare based quality and process improvement initiatives. The fact that defects occur does not diminish the effectiveness of Toyota's culture of quality that has become known as Lean management. Deming hasn't been wrong for the past 60 years. The differences in quality and productivity in Deming cultures adopted in numerous 'businesses' prove that point. Complex processes, like auto manufacturing, and our own business, healthcare, that depend on many, many people getting thousands of individual processes RIGHT, deserve a culture that is focused on continually improving that work and its outcome. The customer, our patients, expect nothing less.

Despite thousands of well trained, dedicated employees passionately toiling in highly rated, quality controlled, well thought-out and modernly designed facilities, defects do occur. We are no different in this analogy- that description pertains to us both. Let's see how Toyota, similarly distinguished in the marketplace for its quality, handled this.....This just in-

Toyota apologizes while drivers weigh in on recall

By Joe Taschler of the Journal Sentinel, Posted: Feb. 1, 2010

"We're sorry for what we put our customers through," said Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota's U.S. division. "We want to demonstrate that our commitment to safety and our customers is higher than it's ever been."

Ron Atkinson, a past president of the Milwaukee-based American Society for Quality, said recalls aren't entirely new for Toyota. "Toyota had quality problems over the years, just none as spectacular as these," he said. "What is new is the media attention. That is totally different," said Atkinson, a retired 35-year veteran of the North American auto industry. "The spotlight is on them multiple times than what they're used to." Atkinson said the recall reinforces that no machine is perfect. "People need to understand that Toyota and all automotive companies make a very complex product - and this isn't making any excuses - but when you have literally thousands of components coming together, you exponentially increase the possibility that something will go wrong," he said.

Half-hour repair

Toyota said a piece of steel about the size of a postage stamp will fix the gas pedal problem that led to the recall. Repairs will take about a half-hour and will start in a matter of days, the company said.

Toyota said the solution had been through rigorous testing and would solve the problem for the life of the vehicle.

Jeffrey Liker, a University of Michigan engineering professor who has studied Toyota for 25 years, said he believed the fix would work, citing the automaker's reputation for careful testing and engineering.

"They are under the gun. They aren't playing any games," he said. Toyota would not give an estimated cost for the repair work. An analyst said the cost worldwide for Toyota could approach $1 billion.

Could we afford this degree of media attention and that cost of damage control and remediation rework? NOT.

Remember the stakes we all play for are human lives, whether we are making autos or striving to make people well. The lesson for us is to never be distracted from our leadership mission of continual improvement. Our founder, Henry Ford had the right attitude that reinforces our persistence in blamelessly identifying what's not right and then redesigning that process according to Lean principles toward perfection, when he said in 1926-

"Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement."

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