IVF is a complex enterprise, and when there are so many moving parts, it’s inevitable that mistakes will creep in. When IVF doctors make a mistake, they find it very hard to acknowledge the error. Doctors do their level best not to make mistakes; and so when they do slip-up, their first reaction is to justify/blame someone/explain away what happened (just like everyone else does). The common justifications you will hear are- “It wasn’t my fault that this mistake took place, my nurse/assistant made it.”
The simple fact is that everyone just wants to keep their self-esteem intact and doctors harbor egos that need tending; this is why it becomes very difficult for them to acknowledge that they are human and can err. Doctors consider themselves to be in the helping profession & they want their patients to get better.
Doctors Have their Reasons
And when they commit mistakes that end up harming their patient, they are riddled with guilt and find it very difficult to live with this bitter truth. The only way they can prevent cognitive dissonance is to refuse to accept the truth; they will go to the extent of hiding the fact from themselves too. The reasons doctors try to cover-up their errors are:
• They fear that the minute they own up to it, their colleagues will think poorly of them
• They feel that they will have degraded themselves in the eyes of their juniors and staff members.
• In addition, they also have the sword of legal consequences dangling over their heads all the time. There are some patients who will take legal action against their doctors if they find that an error has been made
• Doctors have also been brainwashed by their professional liability insurance companies, risk management companies as well as hospital management professionals and lawyers that they should never confess to having made an error. They are told to zip their lips and not even consider apologizing to their patients. Their lawyers are concerned that the minute doctors acknowledge that they have committed a mistake, that will go against them in the court of law
• The other thing that doctors fear is that if they tell their patient that they have made a mistake, they will lose the trust of their patient and that it will impact the doctor-patient relationship
Owning up to Mistakes
And so, the very first response that doctors have when they commit a mistake, is one of denial. It’s important that doctors learn to be open and honest- with their patients as well as with themselves. This will help them do something constructive about it – this minimizes the harm caused by the error and gives them the scope to take measures that will prevent these errors from occurring in the future.
It is the one way that the healthcare system can be set on the right track. The burden of guilt and shame that the doctor carries if he doesn’t own up to his mistakes can only worsen over time. Doctors should keep in view the fact that many patients can be quite forgiving and a number of them will accept the fact that honest errors had been made. But they will not pardon the doctor if he adds insult to injury by attempting to bury these mistakes under a cloak of lies.
Are you worried that your IVF doctor made a mistake and is not being upfront about it ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you better!