Making Mistakes

Somewhere on my list of things I’d like to do some day (and I have a whole section in my notebook for just such a list) is “host a meeting on getting it wrong”. When I was a kid, I used to go with my dad (who’s a doc) to a meeting he attended every year out in Colorado. The whole premise of the meeting was to discuss one case where a mistake had been made, and the resulting patient outcome had been a bad one. It was a small meeting, invitation only, and it was meant to use the participants’ errors as a jumping off point for discussions on improving practice and the profession as a whole. No grandstanding, no tales of heroics that reversed or resolved the error at the last minute. Lots of here’s what we did wrong.

I have been convinced for some time now that we would be well-served to have a similar meeting. To have pointed discussions on patient errors and missteps along the way. I learn more from people’s fumbles than from their successes, and I don’t think I am alone on this. So I was delighted to see this newly posted TEDx talk by Dr. Brian Goldman: Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that?


2 replies on “Making Mistakes”

Where do I start?!?… First, thanks so much for this post.
Some attribute the CYA nature of our current medical (and I ? just ‘medical’) culture to the ubiquitous ‘threat’ of liability. Perhaps it’s more to do with shame on the one side and the foolish notion that the fruits of greed will salve the inevitable pain of grief on the other. Better that we strive for accountability and competence. As healers, helpers or,yes, even investigators, we must allow for the fallability of humanity, but cannot afford (in so many ways) to tolerate those who are not voluntarily accountable &/or do not continuously strive for competence.

Thank you for sharing this information. I hope that your wish to have a “mistakes review learning group” comes to fruition soon! It is refreshing to hear a knowledgable professional admit to being human and that mistakes WILL happen and we need to learn from them. I wish that we could be more supportive to each other in our ongoing learning. Thanks again for all the information that you share on this website.

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