When Doctors Make Mistakes: Justify Or Condemn
Imagine losing a loved one to medical errors, like errors such as misdiagnosed, delay treatment, or technical devices that work improperly. Feeling anger, hatred, or vengeance started to develop because of a mistake provoked by a doctor. But was it, the doctor’s fault, or was it a fault in the medical system? An MD, CEO, and the globally known author for ‘When Doctors Make Mistakes,’ Atul Gawande, uses an alarming personal example of a medical error to illustrate that medical mistakes are not a problem of bad physicians. He contends that virtually everyone who cares for hospitalized patients will make serious mistakes every year and attacks the current medical malpractice system, stating that it creates an environment of silence and fear and makes patients and physicians adversaries. Gawande’s intention is to open the eyes of his readers that all doctors, good and bad, make mistakes due to the system that needs improvement and demonizing doctors from errors. He comprehended his argument through ethos, pathos, and logos.
Firstly, Gawande begins his essay by utilizing ethos to corroborate his standpoint and build his credibility. As he writes, ‘bringing another trauma patient to the hospital momentarily, and, as the surgical resident on duty for emergencies, I would have to be present for the patient’s arrival. Gawande reveals that he is a surgical resident already graduated from medical school and has had years of experience and training in the hospital. By informing the readers of his residency, he develops a sense of trust between him and his readers for talking about errors in the hospital regardless of how demeaning the topic may be to his own job. Besides, Gawande continually refers to other research studies performed by credible professors and specialty doctors. For example, he mentions, Troyen Brennan, a Harvard professor of law and public health. The importance of the researcher’s credibility is to reassure the readers that the research is done by someone with sufficient education and knowledge in a specific field. Gawande believed it is necessary to reference Troyen Brennan as a ‘Harvard professor of law and public health’ because Harvard is well known for its reputation of being an Ivy League school. Troyen Brennan reinforces Gawande’s precept that demonizing errors will not make any progress with the issue, especially when people continue to assume the worst of doctor errors and become ignorant of the situation.
Second, throughout the essay Gawande’s use of pathos appeals to the guilt and sadness of the audience. Gawande states, “considering that anesthesia was used in the United States some thirty-five million times a year, this meant three and a half thousand deaths that could have been avoided. Gawande places the blame on readers, pressuring the audience to demonize mistakes that could have been used to create a more positive movement. In the same quote, the author evokes a sense of sadness that encourages the reader to feel the need to make changes in preventing so many deaths. Later, Gawande writes, “In a decade, the overall death rate has fallen to one in over two hundred thousand cases–less than a twentieth of what it used to be. The study showed that the causes conducted by anesthesiologists and engineers of the malfunctioning anesthesia process counted without one. The author deliberately mentions the result to emphasize the dramatic improvement in mortality rates after the study was completed. By evoking melancholic emotions in the reader and telling success stories, Gawande effectively explained his principle that doctors are also imperfect. Therefore, as expected of the situation, not all doctors are perfect and can move forward to prevent demonization and continued errors. Gawande spectacularly explained his principle that doctors are imperfect too. Therefore, as expected of the situation, not all doctors are perfect and can move forward to prevent demonization and continuing mistakes. Gawande spectacularly explained his principle that doctors are imperfect too. Therefore, as expected of the situation, not all doctors are perfect and can move forward to prevent demonization and continuing mistakes.
Finally, Gawande uses logos to appeal to the logic of the topic. The author notes: “On the one hand, it reinforces the very American notion that error is unacceptable. On the other hand, the very existence of M. and M., its place in the weekly schedule, amounts to a recognition that error is an inevitable part of medicine.” This appeals to the logic of medical errors, because the ultimate goal of M. and M. conferences for hospitals should have been to recognize the triviality of medical errors. Gawande also writes, “Unlike the media courts, it recognizes that human error cannot usually be prevented by punishment. He implies that M.&M. continues to exist because of the success of its more professional point of view compared to the courts or the media, which, again, dehumanize error. M. & M. conferences. & M. resist blaming the doctors involved and instead acknowledge the errors made so that they can be avoided for future use and ignorance can be stopped. Gawande’s appeal to the logic of M. & M.’s existence is to clearly prove to readers that errors may not be tolerated, but they are inevitable, like all other human errors.
In summary, Gawande’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos effectively validates his claim that doctors are inevitably going to make mistakes. With that said, society must not demonize medical errors and understand that going through medical school and committing as a doctor, does not make someone perfect. The author believes that by accepting medical errors and humanizing doctors at a not-so-high expectation, the topic will eventually lose its sensitivity and making it more available to advancements and lower death rates. If the world wants to change, the world cannot be afraid and must not hide because, in the medical world, doctors are not God but simply a lesser human being.
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