Oct 9, 2012

Make Mistakes and Learn

I hate to talk about call nights all the time but this is my life right now - nothing interesting apart from call nights. And most of them are filled with breakneck work besides addicts craving for opioids, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
A few hours into calls and you'll find yourself in a state I termed "reflex thinking" - your brain stops functioning the usual way. Your decisions simply bypasses the normal circuit of reason and logic to end up either to "tackle the problem," or "delay the inevitable." How you reach these decisions you can't really explain it. And pray to God there's usually somebody else to double check or cover your tracks if something went wrong.
I had a terrible call night last Saturday. I made a rather severe mistake by not informing my superior before performing a procedure. I can blame it on the nurse who made it sound so desperate when she called, or told me the procedure was just safely done 2 days ago. But in essence it's my fault I didn't pick up the phone and inform a third party that an unlicensed medical student is about to do an invasive and potentially life-threatening procedure. Even though I've done it twice under near-zero supervision. And that made the fault all mine. I did not obtain consent for the procedure. I let reflex thinking took the good part of me.

Still, mistakes were made and I had to face it come Monday. Mistakes are only worth it if you learn something from it. I didn't have to look very deep to realize I should keep my aggressive, fiery problem-tackling nature from running wild, especially during call nights.
My junior and senior residents talked briefly to me. They said they were not too worried about me performing the procedure but I had to tell them before I do it. I apologized and promised not to repeat it.
I'm still feeling guilty about Saturday night, as is typical with me who remembers bad things for a long time. However, I'm glad I had the courage to step up and take the blame. And learn something in the process. Mistakes are made every day. A man is only worthy if he takes in his mistakes as wholeheartedly as his successes.