HomeDenunciation or dissimulation? Medical error in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Denunciation or dissimulation? Medical error in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Dénoncer ou dissimuler ? L’erreur médicale dans l’Antiquité et au Moyen Âge

Greece, Rome, Egypt, Near-East

Grèce, Rome, Égypte, Proche-Orient

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Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

Mediator, Depakine, Thalidomides, contaminated blood, breast implants... health scandals over the past fifty years have regularly focused general attention on the problem of medical risk. They have raised many questions, abundantly relayed by the different media, showing us how crucial and complex the question of medical error is: where did the error come from? But before becoming a scandal, medical error has also been an inherent risk in the practice of medicine, since its very beginning. A mistake in diagnosis, prognosis or therapy, no matter how small, can have disastrous consequences for the doctor and the patient if not detected and corrected. Far from the huge media coverage of current health scandals, what is the status of medical error in ancient medicines and what are its issues?

Announcement

Argument

Mediator, Depakine, Thalidomides, contaminated blood, breast implants... health scandals over the past fifty years have regularly focused general attention on the problem of medical risk. They have raised many questions, abundantly relayed by the different media, showing us how crucial and complex the question of medical error is: where did the error come from? Why did we fail to avoid it? Ignorance, lack of precautions, deliberate choice? Why didn't we denounce it earlier? In addition to these scientific questions come the complaints and stories of the victims: how can the harm be repaired? How can trust be re-established between them and the medical personnel? The unprecedented scale of the Mediator trial, which started in Paris in September 2019, highlights how medical error is both a health, legal and social crisis.

But before becoming a scandal, medical error has also been an inherent risk in the practice of medicine, since its very beginning. A mistake in diagnosis, prognosis or therapy, no matter how small, can have disastrous consequences for the doctor and the patient if not detected and corrected. Far from the huge media coverage of current health scandals, what is the status of medical error in ancient medicines and what are its issues? This is the question that will be asked during this conference. Several themes require special attention.

How can the medical error be named ?

The vocabulary of medical error in non-specialized and specialized texts (medical and legal texts) is particularly important: is there a specific lexicon attached to the concept of medical error? By whom and under what conditions is it established? Can the doctor who committed the error or the patient who suffered from it identify the error, or is the intervention of an outside expert necessary? Does the lexicon chosen give indications as to the severity of the error? Moreover, can the vocabulary used help us to detect an intentionally concealed or implicitly recognized error?

How can it be identified?

Which criteria help to identify a medical error and to differentiate it from a natural worsening of the disease? Does this awareness have the same value depending on whether the error is recognized by the doctor or by the patient? Furthermore, how is medical error considered by patients and their relatives, and to what extent does the error modify the relationship between the doctor and his patient? If the medical error is partly related to a choice or a gesture of the doctor, the role of the patient, in not following the prescriptions of his doctor – whatever the reasons may be – should not be minimized.

The context of medical error

Medicine appears, in Antiquity and in the Middle Ages, as one of the technai which involves the most risks: the doctor has indeed power of life and death over his patients. In the practice of medicine in ancient times, what are the conditions or situations which can cause medical error? Is the doctor able to assess the risk and protect himself against certain forms of error?

The medical error, between experience and experimentation

How does medical error, which sometimes appears to be inevitable, fit into the practice of medicine? On the first hand, if the fear of making a mistake sometimes leads to another one, can the doctor, on the other hand, dare to repeat his error? Conversely, are there ways for the doctor to correct his error if he can detect and understand it in time?

To denounce or to council? Medical error and scandal

Between censorship, imposed silence and medical secret, medical error is often willingly concealed. Under what conditions and for what purpose is an error concealed? On the contrary, why and how is it possible to reveal and spread it? Does this initiative come from the patient or the doctor? Beyond the quarrels between schools, which have already been the subject of numerous works, what weight should be given, in the disclosure of an error, to rivalries between doctors, to the instruction of a future doctor and, in general, to the advance in science?

The expected participation of doctors and hospital practitioners will put into perspective the concepts approached during the various interventions, by confronting them with the scientific, technical and legal challenges of medicine as it is practiced today.

Date and place

Place : Université Lyon 2 Lumière

Date : May 26-28 2021

Submission guidelines

Presentations will last 20 minutes and will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion. They can be given in French, English, German, Italian or Spanish. Communication proposals (title, fifteen-line summary and indicative bibliography) must be sent

before May 1st, 2020

by email to the two following addresses:

  • jeanne-elise[dot]mathieu[at]wanadoo[dot]fr
  • diane[dot]ruiz-moiret[at]univ-lyon2[dot]fr

In view of the publication of the conference proceedings, the texts of the communications will have to be available no later than two months after the conference. This conference will be the first in a series of biennial meetings organized by young researchers in the field of ancient medicines.

Places

  • 86, rue Pasteur
    Lyon, France (69007)

Date(s)

  • Friday, May 01, 2020

Keywords

  • erreur médicale, médecine, médecin, pharmacologie, silence

Contact(s)

  • Jeanne Mathieu
    courriel : jeanne-elise [dot] mathieu [at] wanadoo [dot] fr
  • Diane Ruiz-Moiret
    courriel : diane [dot] ruiz-moiret [at] univ-lyon2 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Jeanne Mathieu
    courriel : jeanne-elise [dot] mathieu [at] wanadoo [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Denunciation or dissimulation? Medical error in Antiquity and the Middle Ages », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, https://calenda.org/765616

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