m & m & m
I had to present at our monthly departmental M & M conference today, which unfortunately in medical shorthand stands for Morbidity and Mortality rather than whatever else M & M stands for in the real world. (DID YOU KNOW? The candy name M&M is taken from the first letter of the inventors' last names, Forrest Mars and Bruce Murries. Now go impress your friends, of which you probably don't have very many if you routinely try to impress them with your formidable bank of candy-related trivia.) My case involved no mortality and no detectable morbidity, but it still was sort of excruciating to stand up and present it because it was one of those cases where the only thing that caused a deviation from the charted course was straight up human error. The worst kind of adverse event, in my opinion. Sometimes bad things happen because the patient is sick or because of some catastrophic event or because who knows why, and sometimes there are bad cases that you can talk about for days, because they're just so complex and nuanced and what if we had done this? Or what if we had done that?
And then there are cases where just just flat out make a mistake, and let me tell you, that is much, much harder to talk about. Because it's embarrassing, that's why. Not sure why that's the case--after all, I'm pretty sure that the only way that a human being can not make a mistake is when there is only one possible outcome to any particular action, and even then, I'm sure someone somewhere would find a way to screw that up. I know that we all like to think that we're infallible, but the truth of it is that the sooner that we realize how easy it is to make mistakes, the less likely we'll be to make them. Probably.
So that's why I like M & M, though I admit to liking it slightly more when I'm not actually presenting.
I know that physicians historically have a terrible record of admitting when mistakes have been made, and to my credit, I told the patient in this case immediately when I realized that we had gone off course. As bad as it is to make mistakes, hiding or ignoring mistakes that you know you made is infinitely worse--it's simply a matter of intent. Just take responsibility for what's yours. Own up. I didn't intend for this to happen, but here's how we're going to try to make things right. Mending. Which, I guess, could make for the third "M."
And now for no particular reason, pictures of my kids in the bathtub. Don't worry, no indecent bits, you perverts.