Sigall K. Bell, MD

Collaborator, Consultant, Expert: Patient Safety and Quality

Director of Patient Safety and Quality Initiatives
Raskin Fellow in Medical Education,
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Assistant Professor of Medicine, 
Harvard University



As Director of Patient Safety and Quality Initiatives, Sigall’s work at the Institute focuses on developing and teaching programs building teamwork and communication strategies for medical error disclosure and prevention.

“Yeats once said, ‘Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.’  IPEP programs bring the patient experience to life, providing participants with a safe space to grapple with losses, hopes, and the language of caring.  The Institute’s approach to learning cultivates kindness, curiosity, and the capacity to appreciate multiple perspectives.  In my view as an educator, this is the ‘fire’ to which Yeats refers.”

Sigall earned her M.D. from Harvard Medical School, completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).  Her academic interests focus on communication, patient safety, and humanism in patient care.  Interested in understanding what patients, families, and clinicians experience following medical error, she co-developed a DVD-based curriculum addressing the human dimension of medical error, and studied the attitudes and perceptions about error disclosure and apology.  As a recipient of an Arnold P. Gold Professorship, her research interests also include understanding the effects of the “hidden curriculum” and organizational culture on patient safety and humanism.

Sigall’s research also focuses on transparency in health care delivery systems, and partnering with patients to improve health care.  As part of the OpenNotes team, she is leading two studies examining the potential impact of sharing visit notes with patients on medical education and patient safety.  A recipient of several awards, she teaches medical students, residents, and faculty, and lectures nationally.  Her work is published in the New England Journal of MedicineAcademic Medicine, and the New York Times.