Saturday, 28 January 2012

Me..make mistakes??

A 'friend' kindly sent me a link to this TED talk on doctors and their mistakes. It's certainly worth a watch.


There is a balance to be struck in this. Yes,  as a human being I will make mistakes and as a doctor I should strive not to make them.  For some doctors who have an over-developed conscience the ongoing guilt can be hard to bear and at the other extreme there is an easy acceptance of one's own frailty that must be challenged.

In my work as an appraiser it is my responsibility to discuss any complaints made against the appraisee in the previous year. They are mercifully few but I am generally uneasy with the doctor who shrugs them off too easily. Alas occasionally the complaint was far from fair and it has lead  to much soul searching and stress not only for the doctor but also his or her family.

Yes we must face up to our mistakes (and contra the talk, I think many of us do discuss our mistakes with colleagues-that's one of the great reasons for informal regular coffee times in practice life), but I'm not sure that being too open and frank about the inevitability of mistakes is helpful. One unfortunate outcome is the practice of defensive medicine which in it's own way can do harm-although strictly speaking no mistakes have made. I guess that;s for another time...
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