Physician, Teach Thyself: Young Doctors Need To Admit to, and Then Learn From, Mistakes

The medical profession is like the airline industry: Anything less than perfect performance and lives are endangered. That’s why medical schools must teach young doctors in training to not only recognize their mistakes but—crucially—learn from them, according to an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Neha Vapiwala, MD, the vice chair of education, radiation oncology, and the advisory dean at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

This, even though a mistake can be life-altering for a patient and, in this litigious age, ruin the careers of doctors. Vapiwala cites a program that some medical schools have adopted that she considers a step in the right direction. They’ve hired actors to play “standardized patients” that the young docs must break the bad news to. It’s a good start, but only a start. It’s practice, and as anyone who’s ever played sports knows practice cannot match the pressure of the real.

She’d like to see a virtual reality video library “of simulated interactive clinical encounters [that] could help bring to life a variety of difficult error disclosure scenarios, based on real-world examples. These cases could be presented not only from the standpoint of the physician, but also from the patient’s perspective.”

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer