I started this blog to talk about finding joy through justice in medicine. This week, news from the U.K. about the case against Dr. Bawa-Garba highlights to great challenges we face as a global society in seeking that justice. The outcomes in the case should be troubling to physicians and patients everywhere.
Many folks working in the NHS have written eloquently about this story:
Don't Forget the Bubbles: "Can we blame individual doctors for an outcome that has occurred in a working environment that no sane person would find acceptable? "
New Statesman: "I know of no colleague who hasn’t reacted with the thought: 'There but for the grace of God go I.' "
54000 doctors: "As a father and a doctor I have no choice but to accept that I too could find myself being on either side of a terrible NHS mistake. We have to face facts that as a society we are making choices that will make such mistakes more likely to occur."
Patients and healers alike should be outraged that a child died and outraged that another child's mother was scapegoated and punished for it.
Unfortunately this is not an isolated example. Broken systems and a culture of blame are problems in health care worldwide. We need to do the work to build a learning culture in medicine, where we can confront our failures head on and fix the broken systems we all struggle with. A culture and a society that blame and punish individual actors doing their best will only prop up those broken systems, break those working there, and fail the patients we are meant to serve.