Gregory M. Lamb in the Christian Science Monitor:
Part of being human is making mistakes. But what we say and do after the mistake makes a tremendous difference.
When a mistake involves serious injury or even death, the stakes are high. A highly publicized 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, “To Err Is Human,” estimates that nearly 100,000 hospital deaths each year may be caused by preventable errors.
The report has energized efforts to reduce mistakes in a medical system that is complex and in many ways archaic. Hospitals are adopting new practices such as computerizing records and prescriptions to curtail medication errors, requiring surgeons to complete airline-style checklists before operating, and having the patients themselves mark the correct locations for their surgeries.
But what role should be played by the latter half of Alexander Pope’s famous maxim: “To err is human; to forgive, divine”? What actions promote forgiveness, and how might a greater attention to seeking forgiveness improve our medical system? What part does forgiveness play in healing?