Would You Publicize Your Worst Medical Malpractice Errors?

Side Note: Medical malpractice mistakes can be devastating for patients and family members –as well as for the physicians who make those mistakes. And, we’re not just talking from a medical malpractice insurance perspective today –today we are talking about more than getting sued. While there are processes and protocol to help the unfortunate victims of the errors and their families deal with its impact, often little is done to help physicians process their mistakes and the feelings of guilt that accompany them.

Physicians are trained to be “perfect” –to avoid errors, to get the diagnosis “right,” minimize complications, “do no harm,” etc. This is because their errors impact people and their errors can often have terrible consequences. Thus, while to err is human, it can be devastating in medicine. Physicians are not trained to talk about their errors with colleagues. And, it is easy to see why they wouldn’t want to do so. They fear that their colleagues may think they are incompetent, that it might open themselves up to further liability, that it might get them disciplinary action, the list goes on and on. Therefore, it is no surprise that physicians often feel alone and suffer from shame and fear when they make a mistake –all in addition to the guilt for harming a patient. The suicide rate for physicians is about twice that of the general public, and if a physician has committed a major error recently, his or her rate of suicide is triple that of other physicians.

See the article below on how breaking the silence on medical errors has been liberating for three physicians and the good things that came about from their courage to disclose their medical mistakes.

Medical malpractice insurance is expensive. We may be able to lower your rates.

Revealing their medical errors: Why three doctors went public
By: Kevin B. O’Reilly
From: amednews staff
Posted: Aug. 15, 2011

Patient FilesIn September 2010, Kimberly Hiatt made a medical error. The critical care nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital miscalculated and gave a fragile 8-month-old baby 1.4 grams of calcium chloride, 10 times the correct dose of 140 milligrams.

The mistake contributed to the death of the child and led to Hiatt’s firing and an investigation by the state’s nursing commission. In April 2011, devastated by the loss of her job and an infant patient, Hiatt committed suicide.

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