My Greatest Mistake

Thanks to the experienced patient

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 16 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1495
  1. Milind M Deshpande, consulting orthosurgeon1 (milinddeshpande{at}
  1. 1 Hubli, India 580031

    It was my first week in the postgraduate MS(Ortho) course. I had already seen my senior apply plaster of Paris slabs to injured limbs and was overconfident of doing the act independently. I was sent to the casualty on my first weekend to splint an injured arm. As I started applying the plaster of Paris slab, the patient pointed out that previously he had an injury to the other arm and a similar plaster was applied, but over a cotton padding and not over the bare limb. I immediately realised my mistake and felt so ashamedabout my overconfidence—but I told the patient that if he was more comfortable with a cotton padding inside I would definitely apply it, and I quickly removed the plaster that was on his arm, cleaned it up, and reapplied the slab over a cotton padding. The experienced patient had taught me my first lesson over my first weekend, or else it might have been the last weekend for me and my senior.


    • Competing interests None declared.

    • True confessions

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