Ever made a medical mistake? The kind where as soon as you make it you go “doh!” and get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?
For my non-medical blog followers, have you made a professional error? Cost your company some money? Maybe your job?
Unfortunately, humans make mistakes. There is no way to achieve absolute perfection, no matter the amount of studying or research you do, how many times you practice a skill or procedure, you will ultimately make a mistake. It’s statistics.
So why do I bring this up? Well I’ve been thumbing through Google Reader and happened along 999 Medic aka Mark Glencorse, who had a very powerful message about making a medical error. You should read it before continuing.
Read it? Good. Glad you didn’t forget about me. I was going to post a comment other than the two words I did but it would be better served in a blog post. Here’s my commentary:
Mistakes can rock your world if you let them, and I had a similar feeling to a woman who refused care from me but ended up dead hours later. It messed me up for a while with all the “coulda woulda shoulda if this then that” stuff in my head. I took a refusal from a woman who later ended up dead, I felt horrible about it the rest of the night. I was scared to make a mistake, scared sick. It took a call to my medical director who told me that no matter what we do, how hard we try, or how smart or good we think we are that we will make mistakes. “They call it a ‘practice’ for a reason,” he said. “Medicine is almost never exact and is more like an art.”
Sometimes I think we build ourselves up to be perfect, as the business requires a level of perfection, and we forget that we are human when we make mistakes. My coping strategy turned out to be case studies, reading others mistakes and learning from them keeps me from making them, and it makes me less afraid to admit a mistake. When I get a case review, I research the run based on my differential.
Never be afraid if you thought you made a mistake. Find out why you made it.
Research, learn, remember, never repeat.