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Advice from Osler

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 05 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:19

Learning from error is receiving renewed attention, but is a centuries' old tradition among health professionals. Here is some advice from Sir William Osler:

“Never ask a new patient a question without note-book and pencil in hand … Begin early to make a three-fold category—clear cases, doubtful cases and mistakes … It is only by getting your cases grouped in this way that you can make any real progress in your post-collegiate education; only in this way you gain wisdom with experience.”


  • Submitted by Paul Gorman, assistant professor, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon

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