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Improving Patient Care Can Set Your Brain on Fire

Sankey V. Williams, MD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Current Author Address: Sankey V. Williams, MD, University of Pennsylvania, 1220 Blockley Hall, 423 Guardian Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Ann Intern Med. 2005;143(4):305-306. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-143-4-200508160-00013
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When I was an intern and resident, I was learning so much so fast that I sometimes felt my brain was on fire. One thing I learned was that much of what was known about good medical care was not being used. I was providing care to people whose problems were avoidable. My teachers in medical school taught me how to prevent these things, and the textbooks were absolutely clear that achieving this goal was possible, but there they were every day—unnecessary catastrophes. I concluded that having medical knowledge about how to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease is not enough.

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Posted on November 2, 2005
Dr. Rajesh Chauhan
6B/154 A.V. Colony, Sikandra, Agra -282007. India.
Conflict of Interest: None Declared

Dear Editor,

News of harmful medical errors, negligence. malpractice, etc [1], does keep trickling once in a while, leaving behind a bad taste. With a lively media, such incidents usually find prominent place in the news, adding to the misgivings and suspicions. Just as Rome was not built in a day, building faith and confidence also takes time. However these two essential attributes are quite fragile and once shattered, faith and confidence may not be rebuilt easily.

Shouldn't we introspect and find ways and means to check the stray untoward incidents which have the propensity of tarnishing the image of our profession. More importantly, our quest should be for finding solutions of ensuring durable and sustained faith on the profession. Timely corrections and apologies will help. However, a few persons are just not fit to practice medicine. Perhaps some controls and timely weeding out are needed, starting from the entry point itself (while in medical schools). Later on we can assist by avoiding any cover up operations by the fraternity, done frequently with "˜best intentions' of avoiding getting disrepute to the profession or to an institution.

Let us reflect on a saying that is probably attributed to the great thinker and revolutionary "˜Mahatma Gandhi', "A patient is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not an interruption to our work "“ he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider to our profession, he is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by treating him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so."

With regards.


1. Sankey VW. Improving Patient Care Can Set Your Brain on Fire [Editorial]. Ann Intern Med 2005; 143 (4): 305-306.

Conflict of Interest:

None declared

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