Monday, February 6, 2012


As I finish my book, entitled Healing at the Intersection of Law and Medicine, and prepare for my workshop in Ireland, I've been thinking about forgiveness in medical error situations. I've been talking on line extensively with two friends who have been through the heartbreak of losing their children to medical error. One, Margaret Murphy, lives in Ireland and lost her 21 year old son, Kevin, to a series of medical errors. She now works with the World Health Organization, the Irish Medical Council, and the hospital at which her son died on patient safety. She told me in one of her emails, "My take on forgiveness is that I can help healthcare forgive itself by raising awareness and using Kevin's patient journey as a learning tool."

Another friend who has forgiven caregivers after losing a child to medical error is Chris Jerry of Cleveland. He gave up his successful career in medical imagining to establish the Emily Jerry Foundation to do what he can to prevent others from injury or death due to medical error. He publicly forgave the pharmacist held responsible for the prescription error that caused the death of Emily. Now, he and the pharmacist, Eric Cropp, speak publicly about forgiveness and patient safety before pharmacy groups, medical schools, and community groups. Chris told me that he knew instinctively from the time of Emily's death that systems errors caused her death, not the conduct of one person. Still, the process that followed Emily's death was out of his control, both a hearing at which Eric lost his pharmacist's license and a criminal proceeding that sent Eric to jail. He and Eric are delivering the message that healthcare needs to look at systems, not individuals, when errors occur. Chris and Eric are delivering the message with great compassion to our health caregivers, attorneys and communities.

I want to thank Margaret, Chris and Eric publicly for the work they are doing in bringing compassion and forgiveness to all of us.

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