In 1999, the Institute of Medicine brought out the report/book titled To Err Is Human. This created quite a stir and informed many about medical errors that are happening across the United States. Ever since, healthcare providers and government agencies have been working together to reduce the rate of medical errors. However, very little has been done about the second half of the adage -- to forgive, divine.
Many people do not realize this but after a medical error, most patients, families and doctors should reach some degree of closure. However, how this closure can reach forgiveness is a big question. Many patients and families were interviewed on forgiveness and medical error. It turns out that these people do realize that doctors and clinicians feel some sort of guilt for the medical error but so do the family members. It also turns out that many patients and family fear further harm if they express their feelings. Most people felt that clinicians should not turn away from patients and families when a medical error occurs because this is the time they need them the most.
Many family members berate themselves for not preventing a medical error or feel guilty about not keeping a close watch. However, they also feel that if the concerned clinician had made an effort to talk to them and tell them sincerely that he or she had made a mistake, forgiveness would have followed. But, since clinicians do not bother to talk or admit their mistakes, families and patients find it very difficult to forgive for medical errors. This said, even if clinicians apologize or admit their mistake, getting forgiveness might be difficult considering the circumstances.
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