I worked days this past weekend, and we the emergency departmen was very busy. That’s like saying, ‘I was in Antarctica, and it was all white and stuff!’ I’m always amazed by the press of modern medicine, by the changing dynamics. I see a wide range of patients and complaints, from pitiful, demented elderly patients who fall and break hips to young, entirely dysfunctional individuals who would rather do anything than 1) go to school and learn or 2) hold down a job. In the social history of each patient, there is a section where the nurses write ‘not currently employed or attending school’. I find myself reading those words over and over again.

Plowing through the mass of patients this weekend I realized that the amazing thing in modern healthcare is not that we actually make mistakes, but that we don’t make more! We see so many people, so quickly, for so many complicated (and often nebulous) problems, that I’m surprised we don’t miss more illnesses and injuries. But it isn’t just medicine. My friends at the local nuclear power plant have to work hundreds of overtime hours per year, doing rotating twelve hour shifts. And yet, every industry is full of new programs and ideas for ‘error reduction’ and ‘safety’ and ‘injury prevention.’ How about more rest and more staff? That’s how you reduce problems. Of course, no one is asking me.


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