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Consultants who changed my practice: Learning from my mistakes

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 13 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:h
  1. Charles Essex, consultant community paediatrician
  1. Coventry

    We all make mistakes. If you never make a mistake you never make anything. You learn by your mistakes. How many of us believe those phrases? One day in my first house officer post I was called to the phone. The nursing officer for the surgical wards rang to tell me that Mr X had not signed a consent form for his prostatectomy. I said I would ask him to sign it. “Too late,” she said triumphantly. “He's already on the table.” Then the nursing officer for the theatre came on the ward and berated me at length about how we could be sued if something had gone wrong.

    Later, when the consultant arrived …

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