Imagine you are a US marine – and your colleague in enemy territory has captured an insurgent and was holding a gun to his head, threatening to shoot the unarmed prisoner. As retweeted by our E&P Editor @ian_wac, there’s already an excellent blog on this but the answer is – probably – to shout “Marines don’t do that!”
This four word response is to appeal to the core of the soldier. What makes him (or her) the person they are is that they are a marine. And marines don’t do that.
What is there that Doctors don’t do? What is the core of our ‘doctorness’ that makes us feel proud and passionate and gets us up at 2am to drive through freezing fog and sit on the floor of a treatment room to tell shattering news to the parents of a small child they have a life-threatening condition? What would be the medical equivalent of “Marines don’t do that!”
And would you be able to say it if you saw something about to go wrong … or something that’s not right: a harshly critically retort to a junior doctor, a miswritten prescription, a baby allowed to go to a middle class home with not-quite explained bruises?
The challenges offered by Don Berwick in the report which responded to the problems of Mid Staffs Hospital were prefaced wholeheartedly by a bear-hug of congratulations for what the NHS does. And it appeals for a culture of safety and improvement in everything we are.
Can we link this to what makes us what we are. Can we build the want for everything to be as safe, effective, and caring as possible?
Happy New Year