From TedX Toronto:
Brian Goldman is an emergency-room physician in Toronto, and the host of CBC Radio’s “White Coat, Black Art.”
Every doctor makes mistakes. But, says physician Brian Goldman, medicine’s culture of denial (and shame) keeps doctors from ever talking about those mistakes, or using them to learn and improve. Telling stories from his own long practice, he calls on doctors to start talking about being wrong.
This talk spoke to me in several different ways…both from my story of getting sick but also from how the adoption world operates. Please watch/listen to the talk first before reading the rest of this post.
Dad told me that every single doctor makes mistakes because they are all human and fallible. That asking for a second opinion is good. He asked for second opinions from his colleagues, and his colleagues called him at night asking him for a second opinion because they were all fallible.
I was one of those patients whose diagnosis was wrong. It was wrong primarily because of a lack of any family health history, yet I still wage an internal war on whether or not she could have done more to protect me instead of making the easy diagnosis. I doubt I will ever have a clear answer for myself on that because I liked her so I have that bias, as well as dad being a doctor and I have an internal bias to protect all doctors.
I was also one of those patients whose emergency room physicians listened to his gut telling him something terribly wrong despite the initial CT scan not showing the stroke like the follow-up CT did. He did not follow the consult doctors orders to send me home, instead he kept me there until the next specialist came on and got another consult. If he had ignored his gut and sent me home I would have died within days – it is that simple – you don’t have to believe me – that is what my cardiologist says. He saved my life because he listened to his gut telling him there was something terribly wrong.
As I listen to this doctor talk about mistakes he has personally made in his career and how shamed and alone he felt that is further compounded by a culture of denial of mistakes in medicine, it dawned me that the exact same culture is mirrored in adoption.
In adoption, you are either for (pro adoption) or against (anti adoption) – there is no in-between. That type of culture takes dialogue and change off the table. It creates an unhealthy atmosphere for adoptive parents who find out their adoptions weren’t ethical because no one wants to admit anything bad happens in adoption so they are shamed into silence. If they wish to coexist within the adoption world they have to live in silence or they are judged as “anti” adoption. That shaming also happens to mothers who surrendered and whose words are dismissed, ridiculed, laughed at, denied by second or third hand accounts of other mothers who surrendered. It happens to adoptees who speak out – different words are used against them than for either group of parents, but the intent is the same. Make them be quiet and if that fails, discredit them so no one will take them seriously. Generalize, stereotype, dismiss. Silence the critics. Above all else the mentality (and the profits) of the adoption world is that they must protect adoptions image and protect their own.
Both worlds need to stop the culture of silence about the mistakes and the impact those mistakes have. I see this doctor being willing to talk about his mistakes, the same way I see adoptive parents and surrendering parents who have to live with their own mistakes but instead of being silent, they speak up and speak out and try to start a dialogue for change. I just wish the side who fervently believes all adoptions are good, could take off those rose-colored glasses and work just as hard to fix a very broken system. Don’t they realize fixing the corruption instead of trying to silence a growing number of voices is the preferred alternative and is actually acting in the best interests of the child? That the best interests of the child dictates that those who can stay within their biological families do so, and only those who truly can benefit from adoption are adopted? That corruption in the adoption system should not exist and by silencing those who speak against the corruption, actually says you approve of that corruption?
I applaud all parents (who found out too late how flawed the system really is), who are now verbally standing up and demanding change and dialogue. They are making a difference and should never be shamed, silenced, name called or discredited.
Here’s to dialogue and change…it can happen if we can start accepting the whole truth and demanding change starts now.