Monday, August 2, 2010

Of doctors and errors

You'd think, since I'm down to writing two stories a week, that I could easily find two stories in the entire health world to write about. And yet I've spent almost an hour searching for health news and coming up short.
Fortunately, since my job description includes "being curious" and "research," this time has only been a waste when it comes to finding a story. At present I'm reading an interesting article about doctors making mistakes. It happens, for those who might be wondering; they are, after all, just as human as the rest of us. The hard thing is that their mistakes can be life-threatening or life-taking.
One aspect of this writer's point that I find fascinating is that doctors don't apologize because of the legal ramifications. I'm sure there are other reasons: pride, shame, as she discusses at length, more pride, etc. Those are all deep-rooted issues that should be ferreted out.
But it's a sad commentary on society that a doctor cannot walk into a patient's room and say, "I made a mistake, and I'm sorry," because there enters a very real possibility that the patient will sue.
I'd like to think that in this kind of situation, I could be a bigger person and recognize that the doctor tried his best and that the mistake just happened. I'd like to think that, even if the mistake was serious and the results devastating, I would realize that the doctor making a mistake didn't make the doctor at fault. I would hope I could recognize the difference between incompetence, negligence and simple human error and act accordingly.
And I would hope the doctor would feel just as bad as I would want him to so I could forgive him more easily.

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