The Impact of Bias on Quality and Patient Safety
Patient Safety Awareness Week 2020


Despite decades of evidence and thousands of studies demonstrating racial and ethnic inequalities in health care quality and safety, there has been limited progress towards correcting this problem. The lack of progress is especially disturbing in light of the fact that clinicians, providers and health care organizations deeply and sincerely want to provide high quality and safe care to all their patients. This talk focuses on the overlooked factors that are at the root of our lack of progress. Many of our approaches fail to take into account the way we, as humans, actually think about and respond to each other and our world.

Fortunately, there is a large body of scientific evidence regarding the complex interplay of human motives and information processing – and the way they are influenced by social and organizational factors – that can be used to inform interventions and accelerate progress. This presentation will increase participant understanding of the evidence regarding factors that support vs. undermine the ability of health care professionals and organizations to provide unbiased and equally high-quality and safe care to all their patients.


Participants will be able to describe:

  1. Key aspects of human information processing as related to cognitive biases, including implicit racial and other biases.
  2. Specific individual, group and organizational factors that promote equal quality and safety.


Recording, Slides and Resources


Michelle van Ryn, PhD, MPH

President and Founder
Diversity Science
Institute for Equity & Inclusion Sciences 

Grace Phelps Distinguished Endowed Professor 
Oregon Health & Science University 

The Impact of Bias on Quality and Patient Safety – CHPSO

Michelle van Ryn holds the Grace Phelps Distinguished Professorship at Oregon Health & Science University and is Founder & President of the Institute for Equity & Inclusion Sciences (DBA DiversityScience), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to translate the best current evidence into practical and effective approaches for achieving true equity, and deep diversity and full inclusion.

Dr. van Ryn’s research focuses on understanding and advancing the individual and organizational conditions that allow people to be their most unbiased, skilled and effective selves in the way they interact with their colleagues and the people they serve.  Dr. van Ryn is currently the Principal Investigator of an on-going, NIH R01-funded, national study of the impact of medical school and residency education on factors on new physicians’ characteristics that are connected to their ability to give fully equitable care and is the Scientific Director for numerous organizational Inclusive Climate Assessments. She has been invited to give dozens of presentations on her research, both nationally and abroad, and has authored over 107 journal articles, abstracts, and other written publications.