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Bob Carroll
Bob Carroll
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Medical Errors Hidden By Medical Narcissism

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The Piper Report has a slant on how health care professionals preserve their self-esteem to the detriment of patients.

Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism

Medical errors are rampant in American health care, particularly in physician and hospitals services. The human and economic costs are extraordinary. And because these mistakes are virtually 100 percent avoidable, so are the deaths, injuries, pain, and cost.

A diverse range of players – policy makers, thought leaders, researchers, consumer groups, purchasers, and clinicians – are working to reduce error rates and promote the use of safer systems and practices. However, reformers continue to hit the great blue wall of medical secrecy. Physicians, hospital administrators, and other health professionals are extremely reluctant to disclose or discuss a harm-causing mistake.

This is not surprising, of course. No one likes to talk about his or her mistakes, especially mistakes that result injury or death. These conversations are awkward and painful for all concerned. What’s more, disclosure can lead to lawsuits, disciplinary action, embarrassment, self-doubt, and diminished status in society and among peers. But ethically, all this is beside the point. Patients and their surviving family have a right to the unvarnished truth, something they rarely get absent costly and protracted lawsuits.

Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism – a groundbreaking book by John Banja, PhD, assistant director of health services and clinical ethics at Emory University – examines the concept of “medical narcissism.” Specifically, Dr. Banja explains why a health professional’s need to preserve his or her self-esteem often robs patients and their families of the truth and perpetuates high-error medicine. He describes the “common psychological reactions of healthcare professionals to the commission of a serious harm-causing error and the variety of obstacles that can compromise ethically sound, truthful disclosure.”

In Medical Errors and Medical Narcissism, Dr. Banja explains how and why talented, hard working medical professionals often fall into narcissistic traps. Living in a world of intense stress, long hours, and high, often unfair expectations, the “medical narcissist” works hard to maintain the respect of patients and colleagues.