Friday, 18 September 2009

Expect human error

I used to work at Accrington Victoria Hospital. It made the local and national news on Thursday 17th September so I know where the camera crew stood. It made the news because 14 (or 17 or 18 depending on which reports you read) women were told wrongly that they did not have breast cancer. This is not a good situation for those concerned, but correct diagnoses are given to patients on a much more regular basis and this information may be equally devastating. Individuals have to come to terms with what life throws at them and this attitude is not restricted to our health but to every aspect of life.

There may be suggestions that this failure is evidence that the screening process for breast cancer is not up to scratch. I would not like to think that these errors affected attendance at screening sessions as it seems to me that this was an individual error. There may be suggestions that the checks in the system were not good enough but whether it is an individual or a system then errors will occur. Whenever you get human systems you get human error and it is something we have to live with. Errors occur all the time. Fractures are missed on x-ray. Swine flu is diagnosed over the phone. Drugs are not prescribed for those who need them.

If these women choose to follow a litigious route then the chances are that they will gain compensation, but why? Our great legal minds will be united in that they want legal processes to be followed as that is their bread and butter. We need to look at that other great mind Lionel Hutz from the Simpsons when he takes up Bart's case in court. If there is a payout for emotional turmoil then it pays to be upset. As it turns out Bart just has to get on with life. However we are teaching people to emphasise disruption and to keep lawyers in employment as generally there is a payout.

However long we have on this earth, life is too short to spend it arguing. Let's not make matters worse by supporting disruption. It is much more important to live life happily. Expect human error and you will never be disappointed.

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