After Harm: Medical Error and the Ethics of Forgiveness

Overview

Medical error is a leading problem of health care in the United States. Each year, more patients die as a result of medical mistakes than are killed by motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.

While most government and regulatory efforts are directed toward reducing and preventing errors, the actions that should follow the injury or death of a patient are still hotly debated. According to Nancy Berlinger, conversations on patient safety...

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After Harm: Medical Error and the Ethics of Forgiveness

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Overview

Medical error is a leading problem of health care in the United States. Each year, more patients die as a result of medical mistakes than are killed by motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.

While most government and regulatory efforts are directed toward reducing and preventing errors, the actions that should follow the injury or death of a patient are still hotly debated. According to Nancy Berlinger, conversations on patient safety are missing several important components: religious voices, traditions, and models.

In After Harm, Berlinger draws on sources in theology, ethics, religion, and culture to create a practical and comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of patients, families, and clinicians affected by medical error. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging fallibility, telling the truth, confronting feelings of guilt and shame, and providing just compensation. After Harm adds important human dimensions to an issue that has profound consequences for patients and health care providers.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Christian Century
This is an important book that deserves to be read widely. Berlinger has done a signal service by writing it.

— Stephen E. Lammers

Christian Science Monitor
Forgiveness on the part of an injured patient, or the family if the patient has died, comes as a result of both words and actions on the part of doctors and hospitals, says Nancy Berlinger in her thoughtful and well-researched book.

— Gregory M. Lamb

Metapsychology
Certainly recommended reading.

— Mark Welch, Ph.D.

Chicago Sun-Times
Thoughtful and well-researched.

— Gregory M. Lamb

British Medical Journal
Provides a valuable counterbalance to innumerable calls for systemic reforms to reduce medical error.

— Farr A. Curlin

Literature and Medicine
In an environment in which the aftermath of medical harm is characterized by adversarial relationships and self-protective maneuvering, Berlinger's proposals offer an alternative that ultimately better serves patients, families, clinicians, and health-care institutions. After Harm has much to offer students, educators, administrators, and policymakers.

— Gregg VandeKieft

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics
An accessible, thoughtful treatment of this sensitive topic, which carefully addresses the concerns of all parties affected by medical harm... This book should be read by anyone working within a healthcare institution.

— Christine Vitrano

Journal of Religion and Health
A refreshing effort to connect error and forgiveness in a way that encourages the sort of debate the issue deserves.

— Curtis W. Hart

Hastings Center Report
Presents an opportune and refreshing perspective on medical error.

— Summer Johnson

Ethics and Medicine
I loved this book... It is a tight, tasty, spiritual and intellectual morsel.

— Robert E. Cranston, MD, MA, FAAN

Provincial Health Ethics Network
The text in my view makes an important contribution to the understanding of the relationship between physician and patient in the face of medical error... The author states she hopes non-physician health care professionals will find her work of use, to that end she has succeeded.

— Anne-Marie Brown

Literature and Medicine - Gregg VandeKieft

In an environment in which the aftermath of medical harm is characterized by adversarial relationships and self-protective maneuvering, Berlinger's proposals offer an alternative that ultimately better serves patients, families, clinicians, and health-care institutions. After Harm has much to offer students, educators, administrators, and policymakers.

Christian Science Monitor - Gregory M. Lamb

Thoughtful and well-researched.

Christian Century - Stephen E. Lammers

This is an important book that deserves to be read widely. Berlinger has done a signal service by writing it.

Metapsychology - Mark Welch

Certainly recommended reading.

British Medical Journal - Farr A. Curlin

Provides a valuable counterbalance to innumerable calls for systemic reforms to reduce medical error.

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics - Christine Vitrano

An accessible, thoughtful treatment of this sensitive topic, which carefully addresses the concerns of all parties affected by medical harm... This book should be read by anyone working within a healthcare institution.

Journal of Religion and Health - Curtis W. Hart

A refreshing effort to connect error and forgiveness in a way that encourages the sort of debate the issue deserves.

Hastings Center Report - Summer Johnson

Presents an opportune and refreshing perspective on medical error.

Provincial Health Ethics Network - Anne-Marie Brown

The text in my view makes an important contribution to the understanding of the relationship between physician and patient in the face of medical error... The author states she hopes non-physician health care professionals will find her work of use, to that end she has succeeded.

Ethics and Medicine - Robert E. Cranston

I loved this book... It is a tight, tasty, spiritual and intellectual morsel.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801881671
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,182,549
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Berlinger is the deputy director and associate for religious studies at the Hastings Center.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Narrative ethics 1
2 Physicians' narratives 11
3 Patients' and families' narratives 28
4 Disclosure 40
5 Apology 51
6 Repentance 63
7 Forgiveness 81
8 Ethical action 92
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