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Nursing: You Wanna Know What I Think?

When Doctors Make Mistakes

Published November 7, 2013 10:45 AM by Pat Veitenthal
So I see that full disclosure of medical mistakes articles are re-emerging again, like the one that NBC NEWS online just ran. Like most nurses, I have an opinion about this. I think we do a pretty good job about telling on ourselves, so we don't really need to tell on each other so much...but doctors? That's another story.

Anyone who thinks the "Good Ole Boy" network is a thing of the past is clearly naïve. And forgive me for being sexist...I'm using an antiquated term, but the meaning remains the same. They don't tell on each other, and nurses are afraid to tell on them because of retaliation. See, they SAY that there will be no consequences, but we know there always are. Certainly a grueling interrogation by risk and human resources will be had, and maybe a change in your schedule, or assignments.

I once worked in a small facility that I and others believed had a terrible postoperative infection rate, and nothing was being done about it. I had personally witnessed and reported possible reasons for it, and was ignored. Classic example: One weekend evening as the supervisor on duty, I was making rounds and entered the OR to run a machine on its cleaning cycle. After I got all suited up and gloved, I enter to find none other than an ortho surgeon with his son, another child, another parent, and a coach in one of the surgical suites. The surgeon was putting stitches in the other child. They had just come from the baseball field, and were filthy dirty. I questioned the wisdom of this decision, and was rudely dismissed by the surgeon. Later in the evening, I had the chance to tell the anesthesiologist about it, and was blown off. Of course I documented it on the proper form, and submitted it to my director and risk management. The result? I was told by risk that I wrote entirely too many risk reports, and no one addressed the issue with the surgeon.

So should colleagues tell? Yes. Will they? I seriously doubt it.

posted by Pat Veitenthal


What a lovely comment, thank-you.

Pat Vee November 7, 2013 2:22 PM

I think we need to keep check on ourselves and each other.  It is the only true way to advance our practices and advocate for our patients.   I personally know you Pat Vee,and I think you are a prime example of a self assured person who reports wrongs,not to be willful but to be helpful for growth and safety for everyone touched in any given situation. As you know,those of us blessed to have worked by your side will ask ourselves, " WWPVD".  My prayer for the next generation entering into medicine, may they have a Pat Vee to teach them to do the right thing,even though it might feel so wrong,it is oh,so right.  Good luck young people,go forth and do right.

Carrie, Case Management - RN, MLOA November 7, 2013 12:19 PM
Manassas VA

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About this Blog

    Pat Veitenthal, BSN, RN
    Occupation: Per diem nursing supervisor and cruise ship nurse
    Setting: Community hospital and cruise ships
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