by Katie Thelen

I think it’s really hard as young physicians early in our training not to place blame on ourselves when we’re involved with a medical error or a near miss. It was helpful for me on both a professional and personal level to learn that our mistakes are more so part of system flaw rather than a personal one, and what is truly more constructive when approaching a medical error is asking what rather than who. I was partly involved with a bad outcome early in my residency and I experienced a tremendous amount of guilt. I feel that I carried the weight of that event on my shoulders for several months (which felt more like years) without anyone really noticing there was anything wrong. It’s given me a great amount of reassurance to hear stories of others an how they were more so part of a system failure, that expects perfection from imperfect humans. We of course must own up to our mistakes but we also must realize we’re part of organizations that are perfectly designed to get the results that we see.

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