I made a mistake. It was a combination of miscommunication and assumption. Without going into detail, I made an error that could have been detrimental to my patient, but ended up being ok. No harm, no foul. As the error was being realized among the team, I thought the hammer was about to come down on me by the attending veterinarian. I braced for it. I winced. I tightened every muscle in my body. Strangely though, it did not come down.
In fact, the receptionist watched as my face turned red and I held my breath waiting to get an earful. I didn’t even realize I was barely breathing. Then, after quickly fixing the mistake, the vet looked at me and said we’re all good.
She must have noticed my reaction (as a tear rolled down my face) and then told me that there was nothing she could say at that moment that would’ve made an impact on how I would handle this situation in the future. I truly felt awful that I potentially put a pet in danger and she said that was enough of a consequence.
I was stunned. I had worked for so many vets before that would’ve chewed me up and spit me out. I would have left work that night questioning my tech skills and my career. I would’ve cried myself to sleep. I would've considered quitting altogether.
Instead, I was able to walk away with my head held high knowing that while the mistake did happen, we were able to resolve it quickly without issue. That is when I realized that the hammer doesn’t always work.
It’s like when the police offier shows up at our clinic to give a citation to an owner for their dog being off leash. Well, if the dog was then hit by a car and died, don’t you think that is punishment enough? Carrying the guilt of our actions in most cases is punishment enough.
Many of us are our own worst critics and don’t need any extra added insult to injury. We give ourselves enough of a hard time and usually hearing it from the vet just makes things ten times worse and even sometimes causes us to perform poorly. Sometimes the hammer is necessary, but it doesn't always work.