medical error

The Most Powerful Tool in Medicine

Danielle Ofri speaks at the Mayo Clinic about conversation as the single most powerful tool in medicine. More

Danielle Ofri’s TED Talk on “Deconstructing Perfection”

Shame, guilt, fear—you can’t tally these on a spreadsheet, but they are the biggest elephants in the room when it comes to medical error. Danielle Ofri makes a powerful, against-the-grain case about perfection that could lead to dramatic improvements in care and ultimately could save lives. More

Getting the Diagnosis Wrong

Diagnostic accuracy is fiendishly difficult to measure precisely. A new report suggests that nearly everyone will experience at least one diagnostic error in their lifetimes. More

Getting the Diagnosis Right

If I had the luxury of an hour with each patient, I would have the time to carefully sort through every diagnostic possibility. But the reality is that I, like most doctors, have five to 10 minutes to push the majority of diagnoses to the bottom of the list, come up with the most likely few at the top. More

Respect and How it Impacts Patient Safety

When we tolerate a culture of disrespect, we aren’t just being insensitive, or obtuse, or lazy, or enabling. We’re in fact violating the first commandment of medicine: Do No Harm. More

The Dirty Secret About Medical Errors

As physicians we see medicine as a science. We think of ourselves as rational, evidence-based practitioners. But we are far less rational than we tell our patients and ourselves that we are. More

Medical Errors and the Culture of Shame

It was probably our eighth or ninth admission that day, but my intern and I had given up counting. I was midway through my medical residency, already a master of efficiency. You had to be, or you’d never keep up. This one was a classic eye-roller: a nursing home patient with dementia, sent to the emergency room for an altered mental status. When you were juggling patients with acute heart failure and rampant infections, it was hard to get worked up over a demented nonagenarian who was looking a little more demented. More

Falling into the Diagnostic Trap

It’s as though our brains close ranks around our first impression, then refuse to consider anything else. With this patient, we almost missed a life-threatening diagnosis. More

Neuron Overload

Sometimes it feels as though my brain is juggling so many competing details, that one stray request from a patient—even one that is quite relevant—might send the delicately balanced three-ring circus tumbling down. One day, I tried to work out how many details a doctor needs to keep spinning in her head in order to do a satisfactory job, by calculating how many thoughts I have to juggle in a typical office visit. More

Owning Up to Medical Error

Precisely two weeks after completing my medical internship,I proceeded to nearly kill a patient. July marked the startof my second year of residency at New York City’s BellevueHospital, and it was my first time being fully in charge of a patient. More

Books by Danielle Ofri

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