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Morally Managing Medical Mistakes

  • MARTIN L. SMITH (a1) and HEIDI P. FORSTER (a2)

Abstract

Mistakes and errors happen in most spheres of human life and activity, including in medicine. A mistake can be as simple and benign as the collection of an extra and unnecessary urine sample. Or a mistake can cause serious but reversible harm, such as an overdose of insulin in a patient with diabetes, resulting in hypoglycemia, seizures, and coma. Or a mistake can result in serious and permanent damage for the patient, such as the failure to consider epiglottitis in an initial differential diagnosis, resulting in a chronic vegetative state for a seven-year-old boy. Or a mistake can be an error in judgment that leads to a patient's death.

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