Medical Surprise Anticipation and Recognition Capability: A New Concept for Better Health Care

  • Cato T. LaurencinEmail author
  • Aneesah McClinton
Perspective Article


Predicting and preparing for the unforeseen is challenging. Medicine and health care are continuously changing based on science, technology, and regulation. This very process of change creates pathways for surprise and leaves us vulnerable to its impact. The armed forces have established strategies to identify and address surprising events, a framework that can be adapted to benefit the medical community. We introduce Medical Surprise Anticipation and Recognition Capability (SARC), adapted from an established military strategy. SARC is the process of addressing surprising events before they emerge. We explore the framework for mitigating surprise as developed by the Committee on Capability Surprise on U.S. Naval Forces. We recommend further exploration of this concept in health care as a potential asset in our quest towards high reliability.


High reliability Quality Improvement Medicine Surprise Capability surprise 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Not applicable.


This study was supported by NIH Grant DP109349.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative EngineeringUConn HealthFarmingtonUSA

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