Sunday, August 08, 2010

We fail when we don't forgive

For my soccer friends, but also for observers of the hospital world, here is a lesson in unforgiving behavior, from a blog subtitled, The Cultural Politics of Soccer. I am reminded by a statement from one of our doctors: "We are told that we are not permitted to make mistakes." This is, of course, an impossible standard of performance for anybody. The great leaders throughout history have tried to teach us that learning and redemption -- not only for the protagonist but also for his or her community -- only occur when mistakes are accepted as part of the human condition and are acknowledged with a generosity of spirit.

The summary:

R├Ąttskiparen (The Referee) is short documentary about Martin Hansson, the referee who missed Thierry Henry's handball. A Swedish television program had already committed to this project before the infamous incident which kept Ireland from going to South Africa. The station's plan had been to track the country's top ranked referee in the months leading up to the 2010 World Cup - as fate would have it, the story of course got more complex with that one game. It's an incredible portrait - part of a wave of films looking at referees. This one has an unusually personal quality to it.

If you cannot see the video, click here.

R├Ąttskiparen | The Referee [2010] from Freedom From Choice AB on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

The parallels between how he felt after the mistake and how I and other docs have felt after our mistakes were compelling - going over and over it again and wishing it different; the total humiliation, etc.

Forgiveness ain't gonna happen, unfortunately; against human nature in general. That's why it's so prominent in religious teachings....

~Mary said...

Human error happens and patients just aren't forgiving enough of physicians and healthcare providers. This is evident in the number of pending malpractice cases and the cost of malpractice insurance directly related to the over abundance of pending legal cases. Physicians are hard on themselves-after all, perfection is a goal no one can reach. It is common knowledge that a physician falls asleep hashing and rehashing his case load for that day. Somehow this model of perfection and the strain it places on institutions and physicians has to be brought into balance. The ripples of an unrealistic expectation go way out-follow them to alcohol abuse, drug addiction, marital strain-and you realize how much it impacts the person behind the white coat.

Jeffrey N. Catalano said...

For forgiveness to happen, there must first be an acknowledgment of the error by the physician to the patient. Too often the patient is shut out from learning about what happened, which forecloses the ability to forgive. I was privileged to assist in one situation where a doctor apologized for his mistakes that lead to the death of a child. The parents accepted his apology and even embraced him. Unfortunately, this took 3 years to happen. The healing power of admissions and forgiveness for both the doctor and the patient is a beautiful, but unfortunately rare, thing.