When we talk about medical errors, we need to remember that there are two victims; the patient who suffers harm as a result of the error, and the clinician who makes the error. As long as the practice of medicine remains a human endeavour, medical errors are inevitable. As a medical community we need to accept that errors will occur. We need to talk about them openly and honestly, share our own stories, and support our colleagues when they share their stories with us. As members of society, we should better understand the fallibility of medical practitioners, and we need to understand the limits of their craft.
We had the opportunity to interview Brian Goldman, an ED doctor from Toronto, Canada, who is also a journalist, host of the CBC radio show "White Coat, Black Art", author of two books unveiling the secrets of medical culture, and a "TED-talker" with his presentation entitled "Doctors make mistakes - can we talk about that".
We also interviewed our friend and colleague, Dr. David Spriggs, a Brit who has lived in NZ for many years, an excellent general internist and geriatrician, who regularly teaches our trainees on the reality of making mistakes.