When you hear about a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s usually because something went terribly wrong. A surgeon may have operated on the wrong body part. An anesthesiologist may have failed to monitor a patient’s vital signs. While these types of cases grab headlines, it’s rare for a “near-miss” to garner any attention. A patient may never even know how close to a tragedy they may have been.
Doctors, like most people, are reluctant to admit that they may have made a mistake. However, this all-too-human tendency can have disastrous results when people’s lives are at stake. In fact, at least one doctor believes that failing to acknowledge one’s shortcomings could very well lead to instances of medical malpractice.
Shame and guilt can lead to the keeping of secrets
A doctor who gave a national radio interview spoke of how she had a near-miss with a patient when she first began her career in medicine. Fortunately, the patient ended up okay. However, the incident left the doctor feeling rattled. She said that feelings of shame and guilt kept her from ever reporting the close call.
The doctor believes that these same feelings keep other medical professionals from making their mistakes known. The problem is that when mistakes are kept hidden, others can’t learn from them. One person’s close call could prove to be another’s bullseye, resulting in serious, if not fatal, consequences.
It’s important that mistakes, even if they don’t result in any harm to the patient, should be aired out in the open. Doing so can create learning opportunities and may help cut down on instances of malpractice.
A near-miss is probably not malpractice
You should keep in mind that a mistake that does not cause any ill-effects does not rise to the level of medical malpractice. However, you should discuss your options with a skilled legal professional if a medical procedure has left you worse for the wear.