Doctors Are Human = Doctors Err
Every doctor makes mistakes. But, says physician Brian Goldman, medicine's culture of denial (and shame) keeps doctors from ever talking about those mistakes, or using them to learn and improve. Telling stories from his own long practice, he calls on doctors to start talking about being wrong. (Filmed at TEDxToronto.)
The hard, grown up truth; courage, compassion and honesty on this level are extremely rare. How many of us dare so greatly in this area? May we bare witness for each other when we do and in so doing even possibly find our own voices. A deep bow for Brian Goldman and an invitation to us all. Watch his ted talk; because beyond disclosure and apology, beyond our promise to 'do no harm', beyond our identities and skills, there is the human heart, where each individual story is invaluable and unique.
Maybe even find a moment to read the New Yorker article linked here about Henry Marsh. Author of Do No Harm and London based neurosurgeon, he searches for the punctum maximum in personal ethical integrity, while never loosing sight of his truly human limitations and gifts. His stories are a beacon, as are Atul Gawande's in his book Complications. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/18/anatomy-of-error
This quiet search for our humanity can only be found in the narrative. Without the specific details of our human inadequacies on the specific day, juxtaposition beside that moments intention and success all set in a finely calibrated description of the emotions, thoughts and process the next human doctor will be unable to recognise the terrain. The next human doctor will not remember. We need to be able to smell the warning, recognise the wrong turns and intue the speed limit. We must give landmarks and bad weather suggestions when we leave the map of our latest passage. Why? Because we will all find ourselves there again and again. In this sinking heart space where a map could save both our patients and our own life.
Some of my maps must be given quietly over a cup of coffee, some with tears and others at a lecture, but always I feel a sense of deep meaning as I dare to share the learning. Ask me simply and they are yours. This is how I honor my patients.