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Views And Reviews

A really stupid mistake: it does feel like a cop out to blame my error on human frailty, but I’m afraid that’s exactly what it was

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 08 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1617
  1. Giles Maskell, radiologist
  1. Truro, UK
  1. gilesmaskell{at}

As a radiologist I’m used to getting things wrong, but this one shook me up a bit

A couple of years ago, while driving home from my mother’s funeral, I did something really stupid. It was a long drive and I needed fuel so I pulled into a garage somewhere on the south coast and filled up with petrol. I was, unfortunately, driving my wife’s diesel car. I realised what I’d done while standing in the queue waiting to pay. I’ve never done that before and of course I’d like to think that I won’t do it again. I can readily explain to myself why it happened—the unfamiliar car, the unique circumstances, my head full of a lifetime of memories of my mother. Looking back, some sort of error seems almost inevitable—it’s a …

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