“Are physicians afraid to admit to medical mistakes out of fear for being sued and consequently, open and hones communication cannot be achieved. “This statement was brought up during our team building session and not only stuck with me but also continues to bother me. As physicians we enter the profession to help heal people and in the meantime cause no harm. But harm does happen; it is inevitable. We are not infallible. Because we are not perfect we have been given a consciousness and the power to make choices. We can chose to be honest and open, to admit to our wrong doing as well as to our good work. Or we can chose to hide our dirty laundry so to speak. But when we start doing so, over time our mistakes will consume us.
I don’t believe that rules change when we grow up. From little kids we are told to play nice and apologize when we hit or throw something at our friends. We are asked to admit to our mistake and take responsibility for our action. It should be no different when we grow up. If you hurt someone you gather up the courage and appologize no matter how hard it is to do so. I believe that a practice should be built on honesty, integrity, accountability and respect not on fear of being sued.
My personal experience with medical errors has thought me that honesty and taking responsibility about ones own actions as well as the actions of employees is the key to creating a strong practice. A practice where patients can openly say, “Yes my doctor made a mistake but he/she took full responsibility and apologized for what had happened. “