Author Kathryn Schulz recently provided a newspaper exposition of some of the themes of her new book, Being Wrong, Adventures in the Margin of Error. As noted on her website, Kathryn has “a credible (if not necessarily enviable) claim to being the world’s leading wrongologist.”
She finds fault in the way we find fault in ourselves. “Misunderstanding our mistakes . . . — seeing them as evidence of flaws and an indictment of our overall worth — exacts a steep toll on us. . . . [I]t impedes our efforts to prevent errors in domains, such as medicine and aviation, where we truly cannot afford to get things wrong.”
The book is engaging and thought-provoking.
Kathryn uses our wrong-side surgery experience at BIDMC as an uncommon example of using error to improve things, particularly when an aggressive target for error reduction has been established and when a commitment to transparency has been adopted.
She notes, “If you really want to be right (or at least improve the odds of being right) you have to start by acknowledging your fallibility, deliberately seeking out your mistakes, and figuring out what caused you to make them.”
(Bostonians can hear Kathryn in a reading this Friday evening at the Harvard Book Store.)
Paul Levy is the President and CEO of Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center in Boston. Paul recently became the focus of much media attention when he decided to publish infection rates at his hospital, despite the fact that under Massachusetts law he is not yet required to do so. For the past three years he has blogged about his experiences in an online journal, Running a Hospital, one of the few blogs we know of maintained by a senior hospital executive.