Doctors are human…

I walked out of the hospital with heavy shoulders and my head held low.

It was many years ago as a younger doctor.  An arrhythmia arose from a difficult area to navigate to, and in trying hard to ablate this area, a terrible complication ensued.  The rest of the day was spent dealing with this complication.  It invaded my mind so deeply that I could accomplish little else that day.   The patient required major surgical intervention which fortunately she survived.  

I met with the family many times that day.  “It was a complication…I am sorry it happened…I am responsible…We are going to fix it as best we can.”  Saying these words to the family was so hard.  It drained me.

Walking out that day I came upon a senior heart surgeon.  He was the most distinguished doctor on staff. His tall stature, professional attire, calm demeanor, and swiss accent only added to his prestige.  He can see the heavy weight on my shoulders.  It was late, but yet he asked.

I tell him of the terrible complication.  He listens compassionately.

I will never forget his words.

“If you don’t want complications, then don’t do procedures.”

We like to be flawless, but we are human.

We learn.

We improve.

JMM

2 comments

  1. Yes, you are human, and that's what enables you to connect with patients. I'd rather have an imperfect but compassionate doctor than an unfeeling doctor who never made mistakes.

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