Coping with a professional crisisBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-blog/MY01885
- With Mayo Clinic oncologist
Edward T. Creagan, M.D.read biographyclose window
Edward T. Creagan, M.D.Edward Creagan, M.D.
"The magic of the electronic village is transforming health information. The mouse and keyboard have extended the stethoscope to the 500 million people now online." — Dr. Edward Creagan
The power of the medium inspires Dr. Edward Creagan as he searches for ways to share Mayo Clinic's vast resources with the general public.
Dr. Creagan, a Newark, N.J., native, is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hospice medicine and palliative care. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1973 and in 1999 was president of the staff of Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Creagan, a professor of medical oncology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, was honored in 1995 with the John and Roma Rouse Professor of Humanism in Medicine Award and in 1992 with the Distinguished Mayo Clinician Award, Mayo's highest recognition. He has been recognized with the American Cancer Society Professorship of Clinical Oncology.
He describes his areas of special interest as "wellness as a bio-psycho-social-spiritual-financial model" and fitness, mind-body connection, aging and burnout.
Dr. Creagan has been an associate medical editor with Mayo Clinic's health information websites and has edited publications and CD-ROMs and reviewed articles.
"We the team of (the website) provide reliable, easy-to-understand health and wellness information so that each of us can have productive, meaningful lives," he says.
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Oct. 11, 2011
Coping with a professional crisis
By Edward T. Creagan, M.D.
Things don't always turn out the way you hope they will. Most people understand that, but some can't accept it. They look for someone to blame. That's true in all areas of life.
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And so it is in medicine. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the outcome is not positive. Yet patients want and expect cure and recovery. When this expectation isn't met, some patients and families turn to the legal system.
Physicians and other caregivers typically go into medicine with the honorable and noble goal of helping people. So when our judgment is questioned, it can be devastating.
One of my colleagues, a respected clinician, evaluated a patient for a specific problem. All of the appropriate studies were ordered. A careful history and physical examination were obtained, but there was no obvious reason for the patient's problem. Follow up was recommended. The patient later developed a serious problem, one that could not have been detected earlier. The family filed a lawsuit.
As a result, my colleague lost confidence, became isolated and considered leaving the profession. In this difficult situation, it's important to keep perspective. If we know that we did the right thing, even if the outcome wasn't ideal, it can help lighten the heavy burden of remorse. It's also important to take care of ourselves physically, psychologically and spiritually during this intensely stressful time.
I don't mean to suggest that true negligence shouldn't be addressed. However, the numbers seem out of balance when you consider that nearly all doctors in specialties such as obstetrics and general surgery will face at least one malpractice claim during their careers.
Of course in our litigious society, medicine isn't the only profession subject to lawsuits. If you've experienced a similar professional crisis, please weigh in with your suggestions for dealing with these thorny issues.blog index
- AB Jena, et al. Malpractice risk according to physician specialty. New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;365:629.