Patient Safety Rule #1

Be humble.

That, to me, is the number one rule of patient safety.  Be humble to know that you don’t (and can’t) know everything.  Be humble to accept change.  Be humble to listen to the input of others.  Be humble to show gratitude to those around you.  Be humble to admit your mistakes.  Be humble to appreciate the magnitude of the trust placed in you.

Humility is hard, especially in medicine.  After going through such rigorous training you want to feel proud of your accomplishments and knowledge.  As you should.  You want to be sure in your diagnostic capabilities and treatment plans.  You want patients to trust your expertise.  You do not want to seem incompetent or indecisive or foolish.  Confidence and humility are not mutually exclusive, but they are difficult to balance.

Our culture needs to change.  Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.  It is a commitment to something much more important than our egos: the lives of those in our care.

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