As in “do you remember that patient?…” According to Dr. Brian Goldman, the 3 words that a doctor dreads in the most. He bravely shares a number of times in his career when faced them in his confessional TED (another one for the list) talk “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that?

  • “And I came out of medical school with the impression that if I memorized everything and knew everything, or as much as possible, as close to everything as possible, that it would immunize me against making mistakes.”

In the presentation, he makes a plea for greater embrace of mistakes so that doctors can share, learn and heal.

  • They say you never forget the names of those who die. And that was my first time to be acquainted with that. Over the next few weeks, I beat myself up and I experienced for the first time the unhealthy shame that exists in our culture of medicine — where I felt alone, isolated, not feeling the healthy kind of shame that you feel, because you can’t talk about it with your colleagues.”

The doctor-doctor relationship isn’t the only one in the medical world tinged by the shun of failure. All too often the doctor-patient one suffers breakdown. The “Duty of Candour” movement in the UK is lobbying to get doctors to “to inform patients or next of kin of errors or incidents which may cause serious harm or death” with a campaign for “Robbie Law” to make such candour a legal requirement.