Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Doctors Make Mistakes. Can we talk about that?

That’s the title of this TED Talk, “Doctors Make Mistakes. Can we talk about that?

When was the last time you heard somebody talk about failure after failure after failure? Oh yeah, you go to a cocktail party and you might hear about some other doctor, but you’re not going to hear somebody talking about their own mistakes. If I were to walk into a room filled with my colleages and ask for their support right now and start to tell what I’ve just told you right now, I probably wouldn’t get through two of those stories before they would start to get really uncomfortable, somebody would crack a joke, they’d change the subject and we would move on. And in fact, if I knew and my colleagues knew that one of my orthopedic colleagues took off the wrong leg in my hospital, believe me, I’d have trouble making eye contact with that person.

That’s the system that we have. It’s a complete denial of mistakes. It’s a system in which there are two kinds of positions — those who make mistakes and those who don’t, those who can’t handle sleep deprivation and those who can, those who have lousy outcomes and those who have great outcomes. And it’s almost like an ideological reaction, like the antibodies begin to attack that person. And we have this idea that if we drive the people who make mistakes out of medicine, what will we be left with, but a safe system.

But there are two problems with that…

I’ll just say, security professionals make mistakes, too.

Can we talk about that?

3 comments on "Doctors Make Mistakes. Can we talk about that?"

Comments are closed.