Doctors Talk Openly about Medical Errors in When Healthcare Hurts

April 4, 2011—Any doctor can make a mistake, get a complaint or be involved in an incident. Several impressive, personal stories are now collected in the book When Healthcare Hurts. Doctors share their darkest hours.

In the book, some well-established Dutch physicians talk about their medical errors, where they are not proud of, but that forms an inherent part of their professionalism. They talk openly about how they faced the consequences of their mistakes. They hope to contribute to a culture where it is normal to talk constructively with each other about the darker side of healthcare, about the vulnerability and fallibility of health care providers.

The book was originally published in Dutch (November 2009) and had a huge impact in the Netherlands. Openness about medical incidents is essential toward a safer patient care, because openness leads to an understanding of how errors can be avoided next time. Openness also helps in processing the emotions, which the doctor and the patient or his immediate family may face and subsequently contributes to creating a culture where it is normal for caregivers to talk about fallibility.

When Healthcare Hurts is written by freelance journalist Matthijs Buikema and produced in cooperation with the physicians Harry Molendijk (Centre for Patient Safety of the Isala Clinics, Zwolle) and Ian Leistikow (Patient Safety Center of the UMC Utrecht). The book was presented at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare 2011, held in Amsterdam, April 5-8.

The book will be soon available on More information can be found at