Everyone's entitled to make mistakes right? After all, we're just human. You know, forgetting to do something, or doing the wrong thing. With meetings, patient appointments, paperwork, labwork, manuscripts, phonecall and pages, it's inevitable. And I'm not even talking about the lack of sleep yet.
But when you're someone's physician, and you make a mistake regarding a patient, even if it's a minor issue, it makes you feel like the most incompetent, stupid and dangerous doctor around. Even if you were a superstar physician and saved lives just a day before. It make you feel like shit. Literally. You feel like crawling back into bed, or hiding in the bathroom, or just simply disappearing. You feel angry that such a thing could have happened. That you could have overlooked that. And you have trouble forgiving yourself. It spoils your entire day.
I know doctors are still humans though we like to play God, and that implies we make mistakes, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) the medical, legal systems and our own expectations of ourselves don't quite allow that yet. We expect perfection. And when patients depend on me, I expect to give nothing less.
Yes, I had such a day today. On days like this, you begin to question everything you do. When I was an intern many many years ago, I even had what I called the Black Book. A list of last names, dates and mistakes I made while looking after patients. Forgetting to check the INR before a procedure, writing the wrong dose, misreading results of tests. I did it to help me learn, to never make mistakes again. But as my friend said, I was just tormenting myself. So I finally stopped keeping record.
It takes just one mistake to undo the good you feel from the week's work.