This chapter discusses medical errors and malpractice and their impact on physicians. It first considers the role of shame in the practice of medicine and the lifelong pursuit of shame avoidance inculcated in medical education. While teaching young medical trainees to think, act, and look like real doctors, instructors use the shaming process effectively, early, and often. The pedagogical style of choice on hospital rounds or in the clinic is called “pimping.” This chapter also addresses the tendency of physicians to make mistakes, the notion that doctors conceal their errors and avoid apologizing for mishaps because they fear that an admission of fallibility will trigger a suit for medical malpractice, and defensive medicine as a way for doctors to respond to an environment of lottery litigation. Finally, it argues that a modern, comprehensive overhaul of U.S. health care must remove the shame, blame, and paranoia that accompanies tort law as it is applied to the medical profession.
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