The Resident and Harm

Warning: Some spoilers for the show if you plan on watching.

I started watching The Resident TV show on Fox recently. I find it entertaining and it has some good messages. One of these messages is how medical error significantly affects our patients. While this is an uncomfortable topic for healthcare providers, it is a subject that should be discussed.

Medical errors can lead to disability, suffering, pain, and even death. Though not all medical errors necessarily have these consequences. Reduction of medical errors is one way our healthcare system in this country can improve care. We need to identify these errors and then consider action plans to address these areas. We need to encourage patients to ask questions and better advocate for their own care.

Beyond medication errors or giving the wrong treatment to the wrong patient, we need to consider all the different ways patients can be harmed. Overuse of imaging can lead to worse outcomes. Telling a patient about their “instability” can make them worse. Lobotomies used to be an accepted medical treatment, but now we know that resulted in much more harm than good. Medicine has advanced, but we need to continue to weed out elements of our practice that are harmful. People who come to us are in need of help not harm.

Hope that helps,

Steve

P.S. Like almost any medical show on TV accurate depiction is sometimes traded for more engaging drama. Most doctors would not sneak around purposely killing their own patients to cover up a larger medical fraud conspiracy.

I do wish the show was a little less black and white at times. A surgeon allows selfies during surgery then covers up a lethal surgery caused by his hand tremor. I wish the show touched on more of the gray areas at times. Every intervention health care practitioners provide carry risk. A procedure may have a high risk of mortality, but it may be worth it, if there is a high risk of death without treatment. On the flip side, some patients may choose to accept death rather than invasive treatments and a prolonged recovery. These ethical dilemmas would likely further illustrate the impact of medical error and harm.

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