How can we respond to blame?
The fundamental answer to this question is not difficult. It is to make wise choices based on the knowledge that each of us
has the freedom to accept or deny personal accountability for our actions. We can choose whether or not to blame others. Likewise,
we can choose to accept or deny blame placed on us by others. But, we cannot always choose the consequences of our actions,
especially if our initial responses to problems are negatively couched in blame.
How can we best use our freedom to make choices in context of responding to blame?
Consider two aspects of blame related to: 1) errors made by others, and 2) our own errors. In the next part of this three-part
series, we will summarize how we can choose our responses to the errors of others. In the last article, we will discuss how
we can choose our responses when others blame us. (This essay is based on a commentary in the Nov. 1, 2000, issue of JAVMA titled, "Responding to blame by blamectomy and blamotomy,"
Vol. 217, pages 1295-1299 by Dr. Carl A. Osborne).
Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department
of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.
1. Dog's vision impaired; client blames Dr. Y. In: Professional Liability-AVMA PLIT. Chicago: AVMA PLIT, 1999; 18:4.
2. Cobb DV: Who's to blame for inappropriate use of drugs? JAVMA 213, 1998; 213: 338-339.
3. Why are veterinarians taking the blame (for misuse of antibiotics)? DVM Newsmagazine 1999; 30:26.
4. Loring M: Liability for animal bites and attacks: Who's to blame? Modern Veterinary Practice 1988; 69: 116-117.
5. California man busted for transporting firearms; blames veterinarian for dog's death. DVM Newsmagazine 1999; 30:8.
6. Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language. 2nd ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 1970; 148, 336, 1211.