Tag Archives: awesome


Saving Lives Through Failure

Think about what you would do if faced with the following situation:

You sedate and paralyse a patient with severe injuries in order to intubate them. You are unable to intubate due to a poor view and massive orofacial haemorrhage. An iGel provides temporary oxygenation while you prepare for a surgical airway.


Your first surgical airway attempt fails due to insertion of the bougie through a false (too superficial) passage. You spot your mistake and re-do the procedure successfully with a deeper incision. The patient’s airway is secure and there is good oxygenation and ventilation.


You discover that a colleague has videoed the procedure on his iPhone. However he only captured the first, unsuccessful attempt. The patient is not identifiable in the close up video. It’s late at night and only he and you know of the existence of the video. He asks you what you want him to do with it.






Do you…

(a) Ask your colleague to delete the video?

(b) Watch the video with him and look for learning points, and then delete it?

(c) Ask him for a copy of it and request that he doesn’t show it to anyone else?

(d) Other course of action

Consider your course of action given this situation, and then click below to reveal what my colleague did recently in exactly the same scenario…


(d) He did something else entirely: he got a copy of the video, burned it onto a CD, and left it on his boss’s desk!

It takes a certain kind of practitioner to risk embarrassment and criticism in the pursuit of the greater educational good.


He had already ascertained what he would need to do differently next time, so had nothing personal to gain from his chosen action.


Instead, he believed that sharing the video would help prevent his colleagues from repeating the same mistake, and help his supervisors review their cricothyroidotomy training in order to better prepare their team for the procedure. Ultimately, this gesture was directed towards the good of our patients.


His actions may have saved more than one life that evening.