necessary fallibility

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necessary fallibility2016-12-13T06:50:47+00:00

necessary fallibility 


A term related to the chaos theory which explains the unpredictability of events’ results in non-linear, non-coupled, non-deterministic systems.

Fallibility is a necessary evil in medicine; when a doctor acquires new knowledge about natural phenomena, it’s impossible to anticipate each of the infinite variations–e.g., in a disease that may occur. This, coupled with the gaps in the medical knowledge on the part of the physician, make fallibility inherent in medical practice. 

Patients and the public must recognise, accept, and respond reasonably to the necessary fallibility of individual physicians. The physician-patient relationship must be redefined as one in which mistakes will be made, sometimes culpably, sometimes because of the development of the particular medical science at issue, and sometimes, inevitably, because of the inherent limitations in the predictive powers of an enterprise concerned with the flourishing of particulars, of individuals. The patient and the public therefore must also understand that medical science is committed to the patient’s prospering and flourishing, and that the treatment of the patient is itself a part of that science and not a mere application of it 

Reference Gorovitz, MacIntyre, Student, Pediatrics 1977; 60:243

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