If you do something wrong, confess.  Don’t prevaricate.  Don’t excuse.  Above all, don’t lie!  The truth forms you as a human being.

I am reminded of a recent conversation I had with a doctor friend of mine.

She was telling me the story of a local pharmacy that went out of business because they gave a patient the wrong medication.  She wrote the right script, but the pharmacy gave the patient a serious heart medication instead of an allergy pill.  The patient took the pill, became ill, and the fight was on for justice, not healing.

The patient sued the pharmacy, won big in court, and the patient was awarded the inventory and assets of the pharmacy as payment for pain and suffering.

My friend said the lawyers on both sides tried to drag her into the middle of the mess — but she was totally innocent — she wrote the right prescription.  “The pharmacy 100% messed up,” she said.

“Didn’t the patient read the label?  Check the meds?”

She shook her head.

“My grandfather was a pharmacist,” I told her, “and the first thing he taught us all was to immediately check our meds when we pick them up from the pharmacy.  If they don’t look right, ask for help.  Don’t leave until you know what you have is what was prescribed.  Pharmacists will give you an ugly look as you double-check their work, but it’s the only way to be sure for your safety, and theirs.”

She was still shaking her head.  “There was no checking.  Just blind obedience.”

“I think the patient is a little at fault, then.”

She smiled.

Then, I asked, “If you had made a mistake, you’d just admit it and move on, right?”

She stopped smiling.  “Oh, no!”  She screamed, “You never admit a mistake to a patient.  Ever!  That’s what lawyers are for.  Let them argue over the truth.”

“But,” I asked, my jaw ajar at her curious response, “If a mistake were made, and you hurt someone — why not just confess, ask for forgiveness, and then reasonably sort it out?”

She stopped screaming and laughed at me.  She was smiling again.  “Oh, what little you know!  The world is waiting for that one, little mistake you make to pay off in a lawsuit lottery win.  There are lawyers sharking around and circling and waiting for the tiniest bit of blood in the water so they can chew you up and devour the entire life you worked to earn.  Never admit.  Never confess.  Deny, deny, deny!”

She ended her speech with a circular flourish of her arms as she showed me to the door.

I smiled back, and I thanked her for the information.  I knew right then that her true character had been revealed in those clear moments of faked smiles and horrible screaming and mocking laughter — and I was disturbed to learn how little I really knew of her — and yet I couldn’t deny how hard it must be to have her life where everyone around you is lying in wait and hoping, nay praying, for that one, little, mistake you might make that will buy them a new life built on the total destruction of yours.


  1. This makes me feel sorry for your doctor. What sort of life must she have if she’s always looking over her shoulder?

  2. One of my favourite stories about my grandmother is how she mentally checked the prescription written by a doctor after she gave a customer their order and chased after them to stop them from taking it, realizing that what the person had just gotten did not mesh well with what they were already taking. I think with the advent of computer checking prescriptions, the pharmacy techs are more lax about what they give out and assume the computer knows what it is doing.

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