Making a mistake
What to do if things go wrong
Mistakes are inevitable during a professional lifetime, and every senior doctor will have horror stories to tell. Despite the ubiquity of medical error, however, doctors seldom admit they are fallible, which results in an expectation of perfection and an atmosphere of anxiety. Errors become taboo, and colleagues who make mistakes become the subject of gossip. This article sets out to tackle the taboo and to give tips on what to do after you have made a mistake.
“I am scared of the inevitability of error,” says Chris Redd, a first year at the Peninsula Medical School. Most students and doctors are aware of the possibility of error, but people do not often consider what comes next. “It’s the moment when your heart thumps, you feel shaky, and you desperately wish you could turn back the clock. You have made a mistake in treating a patient and their condition has deteriorated.