Tag Archives: shame

When Doctors Do Harm ft. Danielle Ofri, MD


Hippocrates set a high bar.

A portrait of Dr. Danielle Ofri, Author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

Dr. Danielle Ofri–NYU professor of medicine, Bellevue Hospital internist, and author of great renown–joined us this time to talk about her new book, When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error.  Examining medical errors is a something all good physicians do–sometimes on a stage in front of their colleagues but often surreptitiously. However, “mistakes were made” simply isn’t acceptable to most patients and lawyers. Meanwhile, the shame felt by practitioners who make mistakes is not only unhelpful but hinders their development and can contribute to burnout and depression.   Because of the consequences of shame are so dire, Dr. Ofri argues in her book that confronting mistakes in a humane, understanding, and open fashion is vital. 

Not many years ago, a headline grabbed her attention:  medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.  How can that be? she wondered.  If people were dying at that rate, wouldn’t physicians have noticed this earlier?  Of course, it turns out that the story of medical error is much more complicated than that headline would lead one to believe, and set Dr. Ofri on the path to this latest book.  Join MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk, M4 Marisa Evers, M2 Jessica De Haan, and M4 Anne Nora for this discussion on the sources of error, the causes, and the ways to understand and learn from the inevitable.

We also discuss her and her colleagues’ experiences fighting COVID-19 in New York City and learning about the disease in real time.

We Want to Hear From You

How’d we do on this week’s show? Did we miss anything in our conversation? Did we anger you? Did we make you smile? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime  or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  It’s always a pleasure to hear from you!

This Student’s Shame is Changing Our Curriculum


shame photo
Photo by Joe Gatling

[This episode is brought to you by Pattern. We hope you’ll check out their disability insurance offerings for docs at http://patternlife.com/partner/shortcoat.]

Doctors and medical students often have an identity based on perfection and infallibility.  Often it that identity comes from their own expectations of themselves, and sometimes it comes from external sources.  Whatever the source, it’s both motivating and problematic to feel shame when mistakes are made,  or when knowledge is imperfect.

Fourth-year student and future OB/Gyn doc Luci Howard visited with MD/PhD student Aline Sandouk and M1s Caitlin Matteson, Morgan Kennedy, and Emerald Dohleman to talk about her project to create a curriculum about shame and medical student identity.  Her shame–as a first-gen college graduate, as a perfectionist, and as someone who’s made mistakes–was holding her hostage in some ways, but now her curriculum works to illuminate and combat the negative effects of shame in medical education, and it will soon be integrated into the College of Medicine’s curriculum. Her work means that future medical learners will learn how to react productively and rationally when they inevitably achieve less-than-perfection.  

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We Want to Hear From You

Would you be willing to share experiences that have felt shameful in order to help others? Call us at 347-SHORTCT anytime or email theshortcoats@gmail.com.  

Continue reading This Student’s Shame is Changing Our Curriculum