AWAKENING TO IMPERFECTION—Medical Malpractice

The Buddhist notion of imperfection is crucial to its metaphysical understanding of the nature of reality. We are all imperfect, but exist in this physical form as an opportunity to gain awareness through experiencing our imperfect natures and moving forward in our journey.

Unfortunately, our tolerance for imperfection is severely limited by our judicial system which encourages punitive reprisals for medical ‘mistakes’.

Physicians are, unfortunately, human beings. Their efforts are for the most part aimed at assisting and aiding other human beings. Their efforts are, for the most part, driven by a deep, unflinching desire to offer compassionate care to their patients.

When errors occur, when their imperfect natures manifest themselves, the response of our society is to severely punish the physician who ‘commits’ an error in the performance of his/her duties.  There is an insidious and pernicious implication of intent in such proceedings.

If any physician intentionally injures another human being, then they should face the full measure of criminal justice.  But…

There is no compassion for the provider who is imperfect. The judicial system rewards those who accuse the physician of malpractice with an implicit attitude that these acts were committed with malevolent intention.

Our legal system rewards this attitude. It is not only unconscionable but contrary to what we know about our human nature.

When the inevitable errors in judgment unfortunately occur. The response of society should be to convene a panel of experts to assure a swift and fair adjudication of all and any complaints.  The right to sue is a fundamental American right.

What must be changed is the system which drags physicians into court, has them attempt to explain to a panel of intelligent but otherwise ordinary citizens, the medical thinking that went on within any one case.  This is hardly a jury of their peers.  No non-physician is capable of assessing the intricacies of many of the medical judgments that take place within a patient/doctor relationship.

What’s worse, a jury is  called upon to evaluate the conflicting testimony of medical professionals.  This is clearly not an appropriate, fair or spiritual manner in which to judge such cases.

So let us truly embrace the wisdom of the awareness that imperfection is inherent in our nature.  Let us show compassion to each other in this regard and allow this attitude to transform the present system of adjudicating medical malpractice cases.

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