Coping with medical mistakes and errors in judgment

Ann Emerg Med. 2002 Mar;39(3):287-92. doi: 10.1067/mem.2002.121995.


Attention has recently been focused on medical errors as a cause of morbidity and mortality in clinical practice. Although much has been written regarding the cognitive aspects of decision making and the importance of systems management as an approach to medical error reduction, little consideration has been given to the emotional impact of errors on the practitioner. Evidence exists that errors are common in clinical practice and that physicians often deal with them in dysfunctional ways. However, there is no general acknowledgment within the profession of the inevitability of medical errors or of the need for practitioners to be trained in their management. This article focuses on the affective aspects of physician errors and presents a strategy for coping with them.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Decision Making*
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Medical Errors / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control
  • Medical Errors / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*