Bret Burton: Simple Changes for Safer Patient Care

By Andy Smith | AAPL
April 28, 2018

The Air Force regional CMO suggests using the STAR method – Stop, Think, Act, Review – to guide decision-making “when skills and rules don’t provide the immediate answer.” 

Simple changes in the behavior of physician leaders can drive greater reliability in the delivery of safer, higher quality patient care, according to Col. Brett Burton, MD, MBA, FAAPL.


Bret Burton

As the regional chief medical officer at the Air Force Material Command in Dayton, Ohio, Burton cited as proof two of his small community hospitals, where adjustments in his organization’s culture have resulted in a marked decrease of serious safety events.

“Small adjustments in daily interactions that occur in every organization can reap rewards, such as structuring emails in a format to highlight communication, instilling a mindset of curiosity during interpersonal interactions, and utilizing techniques to stop and assess complicated situations before moving forward, allowing clarity to enter a decision loop," he said during his presentation in April during the 2018 AAPL Physician Leadership Summit in Boston.

He suggested using the STAR method – Stop, Think, Act, Review – to guide decision-making at times “when skills and rules don’t provide the immediate answer.” And he encouraged physician leaders to begin each meeting with a “safety moment” to highlight and emphasize the importance of safety.


Standing-Room Crowd Marks Revival of AAPL Vanguard Program
Post-Summit Engagement: Share Your Knowledge
Online Courses - Embracing Change

Popular Articles


About Physician Leadership News

Now more than ever, physicians are leaders in their organizations and communities.

The American Association for Physician Leadership maximizes and supports physician leadership through education, community, and influence. We promote thought leadership in health care through our Physician Leadership News website, bimonthly Physician Leadership Journal and other channels.

We focus on industry leadership issues such as patient care, finance, professional development, law, and technology. Association announcements and news of association events can be found.

Send us your feedback at

Journal Submission Guidelines

AAPL's award-winning print publication, the Physician Leadership Journal, welcomes originally authored manuscripts for peer review that meet competency, formatting and preparation criteria. To review these guidelines and other information regarding submissions, click here.