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Errors essential for medical progress

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Martin Samuels, M.D. , chairman of the neurology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital,  Boston, says at the end of his essay “In Defense of Mistakes”:

“Of course, I try the best I can to avoid errors, but there is absolutely no way that I can succeed. Doctors must make myriad mistakes, recognize them for what they are and change gradually as a result of the tiny percentage of them that make one better adapted to the environment, whatever that may be. This process is not controlled by our free will. We all try to avoid errors but none of us will succeed. This is fortunate as errors are the only road to progress. Focusing on the evil of errors takes our attention away from the real enemy, which is illness. We should relax and enjoy the fact that we are lucky enough to be doctors. Future generations can judge what changes were or were not worth making.”



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