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3 Types of Medical Errors to Avoid

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by Ghada Ali youssef, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. Ghada Ali youssef

    Ghada Ali youssef Golden Member

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    In such a complex field like medicine, medical errors are inevitable. And we’re not just talking about the literal errors made on the job by physicians. While we’re at it, let’s take a look at the errors within the system of medicine itself, as well as the personal errors physicians make early on in their careers.

    Professional errors
    First, we have the most obvious medical errors—those that physicians make when treating their patients, sometimes with fatal consequences. These, of course, are the most devastating and occur way too often. In fact, researchers at John Hopkins show that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in just the United States alone, where we have some of the most cutting-edge technology and highly trained physicians in the world.

    Though efforts are certainly in progress to prevent needless medical errors from taking place, they are harder to avoid than we’d like to admit. For one, human error can never be completely eradicated unless all physicians were replaced by robots on wheels (not so far-fetched). Furthermore, several factors outside a physician’s control come into play. For example, in the UK 40% of patients who die from medical errors are over 80-years-old, which further muddles the causal relationship. What can be agreed on, however, is that pointing fingers and demonizing physicians as negligent does not get us any closer to finding a productive solution.

    Systematic errors
    The second classification of errors in medicine worth mentioning are those in healthcare itself. Several policies in place do very little to help the caregivers thrive within the system so that the system can thrive as a whole. For example, physicians are not allowed sick days unless deathly ill. From medical school onward, they are expected to be superhuman and put their needs aside for others. While this may seem noble, it can have catastrophic effects—ranging from physical to emotional deterioration. More emphasis needs to be placed on caring for the physicians if the patients are to be cared for properly.

    Another flaw within the system has to do with how nurses are expected to operate. Due to the shortage of doctors and the barrage technology and reporting that takes place, nurses can hardly provide the of quality patient care they desire. They are constantly pulled in several directions, becoming regulators of organized chaos. So what does this have to do with physicians? Everything. Doctors and nurses must be a well-oiled machine in order to best care for their patients. Let’s do our part to respect our nurses’ time and resources, being more selective and timely with our requests.

    Personal errors
    Lastly, it’s important to touch on the personal errors medical students and residents fall victim to when carving out their paths as physicians. First of all, when looking for a job, most residents consider salary to be the most important factor. With such high levels of debt, who can blame them? While it is important to make sure your medical school has a good record of graduate employment, salary is actually the leastimportant determiner of job satisfaction. Far more important factors include location preference, long-term life priorities, etc. Seeking prestige and the approval of others will only lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment. After all, you can only please others once you have truly pleased yourself.

    This last one is for the ladies—as well as the men in their lives. Women physicians are under constant pressure to where several different hats, from competing in a male-dominated field to being the perfect, nurturing caretaker at home. While we complain about these high expectations, the truth is many of them come from ourselves.
    On one hand we long to be celebrated for who we are as women, and on the other hand, we try to dilute our feminine qualities, reinforcing the idea they are somehow inferior and can’t be taken seriously. The best way women can get the respect and appreciation they deserve in all their roles is to see their unique contributions as strengths that men simply can’t offer, rather than trying to become men themselves. May we all learn to celebrate what we have to offer to the field of medicine, realizing we don’t have to be clones to be equal.

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