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Doctors make mistakes.

TED posted this powerful talk today about the toxic culture of perfectionism in medicine. This shows the importance of acknowledging mistakes—not only for patients, but also for quality improvement efforts and for physicians’ well-being.

It takes a lot of courage to do what this doctor did: to get up in front of a crowd and trot out a laundry list of personal mistakes. Most doctors seem to have one story they’re willing to tell, usually about a mistake they made during residency. So is Dr. Goldman just a terrible doctor? Maybe. But he felt it was important to speak on this topic, which tells me he’s probably a great doctor. And if great doctors make mistakes like this, what does that say about the mediocre doctors? So many errors and near misses go unreported and unacknowledged. How can we fix the system and care for our doctors when we don’t know the whole story?

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