Radiology publishes Berlin poem on errors from RSNA 2012

In case you missed it at RSNA 2012, the poem delivered by Dr. Leonard Berlin about disclosing errors to patients has now been published in the July edition of Radiology.

Delivered as the Annual Oration in Diagnostic Radiology at RSNA 2012, Berlin's 22-minute opus covered the "remarkable change in the relationship between physician and patient," from the era of "doctor knows best" to the " 'patient-centered' paradigm of today."

While radiologists may be reticent to acknowledge errors for fear of getting sued, Berlin believes that patients often sue because they believe that medical errors have been concealed. An excerpt from the poem follows:

Simply disclosing an error is not enough; we need to do much more.
An apology is required, accompanied by a certain rapport.
An apology is an acknowledgment of responsibility for an adverse event
coupled with expressions of remorse and desire to repent.
An "authentic" apology begins with an admission of the offense,
along with an explanation, being careful to avoid a false defense,
assurance that repetition will be avoided by conducting an investigation,
ending with an offer of reasonable reparation and compensation.

In the Radiology article (Vol. 268:1, pp. 4-7), Berlin adds a postscript that addresses whether all errors should be disclosed. He finishes by quoting lyrics from "South Pacific" and advising readers as follows: "Looking to and abiding by your own conscience is the only way to avoid remorse."

Berlin decided to deliver the oration in rhymed verse because he "wanted to do something different," he told the Daily Bulletin during RSNA 2012.

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