Marianne Paget's The Unity of Mistakes has long been considered a landmark text on the nature of medical error. Paget-who herself died because of a medical error-argued that mistakes are an intrinsic part of the clinical process. Encompassing a much wider range of error than the terms \u0022malpractice,\u0022 \u0022incompetence,\u0022or \u0022negligence\u0022 denote, The Unity of Mistakes takes an existential view of medical work in which things go wrong as a matter of course, and probes what Paget called the \u0022complex sorrow\u0022that can result when things do go wrong. This new paperback edition contains a Foreword by Joan Cassell, anthropologist and author of Expected Miracles: Surgeons at Work. \u0022I began this study when I became aware of the anguish of clinical action and of the moral ambiguity of being a clinician, a person who acts, acts sometimes mistakenly, and, therefore, lives with the experience of being wrong.\u0022 With this statement, Marianne Paget introduces her study of medical mistakes and their meaning. Using as her \u0022text\u0022 in-depth interviews with forty doctors, she explores the subjective experience of physicians who inevitably make mistakes. Marianne Paget argues that mistakes are an intrinsic feature of medical work which she calls an error-ridden activity. Mistakes involve action and action contains risk. Since medical mistakes put at risk human beings (not just the acted upon but the actors), her concern is with the subtle effects this endemic danger has upon clinical work. Through close textual analysis, the author examines the ways in which particular actions (which seemed right at the time) are recognized as errors and responded to. Her study encompasses a much wider range of error than the terms \u0022malpractice,\u0022 \u0022incompetence,\u0022 or \u0022negligence\u0022 denote. She takes an existential view of medical work in which things go wrong as a matter of course and probes what she calls the \u0022complex sorrow\u0022 that can result.
Marianne A. Paget (1940-1989) was a sociologist and researcher who in the course of her career held positions at various universities, and at the time of her death was a research associate in the Department of Sociology at Brandeis University. Joan Cassell is Research Associate in the department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and the author of several books, including Expected Miracles: Surgeons at Work and The Surgeon in the Woman's Body.
ForewordAcknowledgments1. The Language of Mistakes2. Language Departures3. Acting-as-If4. The Semantic Sense of Mistakes5. A Language of Intention6. The Complex Sorrow of Clinical Work7. The Unity of MistakesNotesReferencesIndex