I just went to a lecture titled "Medical Error and Apologies," given by a physician who is passionate about the need to apologize to patients. He somewhat sidestepped the idea that it would implicate the doctor in future lawsuits, and the main point (from what I gathered) was that the apology is necessary for the physician. It's apparently stressful to carry around the guilt of accidentally killing someone and NOT apologizing for your error.
Interesting idea, but not very realistic. Your doctor makes an error and it paralyzes your left arm causing you to lose your job and family (as seen in a recent episode of ER) and you apologize for the error -- that makes it no better for the patient and it leads to the guilt of the physician in the inevitable lawsuit. As a great five year old once taught me: "sorry doesn't make it better!"
One of the audience members brought up the show "My Name Is Earl" and the ramifications that can occur from apologies and making amends can sometimes have on others when we're doing it to make ourselves feel better, it's almost selfish.
One of the quotes in his presentation was this:
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." [Attributed to Smedes, who sounds like a fun guy to share a beer with]
I mentally checked out of the lecture at that moment and started thinking about who I need to forgive.
Who is waiting ever so anxiously for me to offer a heartfelt apology...please email me, for I really don't know. I don't think I've intentionally hurt anyone who I would need to apologize to, though in saying that I feel a bit self-righteous. I'm no angel. I MUST have been horrible to someone at some point...(I imagine my parents would offer some prime moments from my teenage years as an example).
At one point in my career I was working in a police department and a sergeant I worked with was quite an arrogant man. A far cry from the typical policeman? Probably not, but he was overly arrogant and an absolute ass at times. FUNNY guy when you weren't on his bad side...but I had the distinct pleasure of making it on his shit list once. He said something incredibly mean to me, so mean that I've blocked out every bit of it. I did what most 23 yr old females would do in such a situation -immediately burst into tears.
Ha-kidding, any one who knows me knows that I only cry when my son is in pain or if an animal dies on ANY Animal Planet show. Anyway, Officer NotSoFriendly is an ass - I do the logical thing and go straight to my supervisor and the Chief of Police. The sergeant was told to apologize and keep his distance from me. This is what he said to me: "I'm sorry that you felt that I was being mean."
It didn't hit me at first, but then I realized that he didn't apologize for being mean. He apologized for how I felt when he was mean. Can he do that?? No one else can apologize for MY feelings. Those are mine!
Anyway, the doctor giving the lecture mentioned that even doctors are human and can't be expected to never ever ever make a mistake. Unfortunately, the truth is, sometimes in their profession their mistake can lead to loss of life or a huge burden on your life, but he believes that saying sorry is important if you make a mistake. It wouldn't exclude them from a lawsuit, but should be included in both the doctor and patient recovering from the incident. I don't know that I agree with him.
Speaking of police---wouldn't this hold true for them as well? They can't be expected to never ever ever make a mistake. Doctors who make a mistake keep on doctoring....police who make a mistake are put on administrative leave. Interesting.
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