Last year I got used to the idea that I was responsible for what the medical students did. I was supervising, so it was always my problem. If I hadn’t noticed what they did, that was my problem too.
“My problem” is getting bigger this year. Now I’m responsible for the interns too. If we’re on the phone, and I don’t ask them for some information, the fact that neither of us knows it is my problem because I should have asked, not theirs because they didn’t check in the first place. If I tell them to do something, and it doesn’t get done, it’s my problem, because I should have checked back on them. If they misorder something, it’s my problem, because I should look at their orders.
Human nature likes to blame other people. It’s really hard not to blame the interns; they’re so handy for it. But it’s not fair to them; they’ve only been doctors for three months. I’m the one who knows about all these details, and I’m the one who should be double-checking all of it. If anything gets missed or goes wrong, it’s my fault. Always.
I told myself that for three hours this morning. Now I believe it, and hence can feel appropriately guilty for the weekend’s errors. Every single mistake I make could change someone’s life. It’s starting to get to me. I don’t even need to bring the lawyers into the picture. After thinking about this for a couple more days or weeks, I’ll be so paranoid about hurting someone or missing something, lawsuits won’t even be part of my reasoning. That should make me a better doctor, but it’s no fun thinking about it.
(And nothing particularly bad happened this weekend; just details. I need to have a higher standard for myself than the attending does. I need to be more upset about what I miss than any attending or chief resident will be. Even when the attending agreed with my decision, if it didn’t turn out right, I can’t blame him; I have to blame myself. I should have known better.)
(And then some people call me ‘intense,’ with a connotation that means I should back off, let things go. I can’t. I make enough mistakes, without trying to let go too.)