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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Helpful Paranoia

Remember my "almost-deadly mistake" of last week?  Today I did my first neuter since then, on a dog about the same size.  Last week's case was running through my mind the whole time, and I was extra careful.  I watched my suture placement more closely than I have since I first started doing this surgery, despite the fact that I've done thousands of these procedures.  This is something that I'll probably do quite a bit in the future, not being as comfortable and complacent as I have in the past.

Honestly, this isn't necessarilly a bad thing.  I realize that I'm only human and mistakes will happen (not just as a vet but in my life in general).  However, I hope that I learn from my mistakes and never make the same one twice.  I can clearly remember each slipped stitch, wrong drug dosage, and missed diagnosis I've made, as well as I remember certain of the highly successful cases.  Everyone will make a mistake once.  I try hard never to make the same mistake twice.  Part of experience is learning from your past screw-ups and preventing them from happening again in the future.  There are many things I am confident that I will never do a second time because I felt so bad or stupid the first time. 

A little paranoid to triple-check this surgery? Probably.  But I consider this a helpful kind of paranoia, as it makes me a better doctor.  Sometimes the hardest lessons are the ones we learn the most from.


  1. "Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn."
    ~C. S. Lewis

  2. i mentioned this to a friend - an American emergency vet who now works in NZ - sand she said she saw this a lot... she also said one vet managed to take out a prostate instead of a retained testicle, with 3cm of urethra... had to be euthanised.
    Glad yours had a positive outcome.
    Lessons like this serve to remind us there is NO such thing as routine surgery and anaesthesia!


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