Last week, I went for my annual physical. Since the appointment was for 3 p.m., I went in the morning to get my blood work done. (No one wants to be around me when I haven’t eaten.)
When I returned for the actual physical, I was greeted with all sorts of apologies. The courier had arrived that morning and taken my blood with the other samples. The problem was that my vials had not been labeled, so they were discarded at the lab. I would need to fast and return for my blood to be drawn again.
I didn’t find this to be a huge problem. The woman who draws the blood is a pro, so no pain would be involved. I work near the doctor’s office, so the inconvenience would be minor. I simply said I’d come back on Monday.
But their approach to the mistake was impressive. Both the nurse and my doctor apologized, explaining how the mistake happened but also taking full responsibility. They made sure I knew the office was closed the next day so I wouldn’t make a futile trip. And they offered me a gas card for my trouble. (I initially refused it, but then an assistant chased me down the hallway with it in her hand.)
Mistakes happen. There is no way around it. But it’s how we handle them that makes the difference. Like me, you probably know several ways my experience could have played out:
- The nurse could have blamed a colleague, or even worse, snapped at the colleague in front of me.
- They could have made me feel guilty for coming to get my blood work done early.
- They could have been so nonchalant that I felt my experience didn’t matter at all.
My visit to the doctor’s office reminded me of the way to react when the inevitable mistake does occur:
- admit it
- correct it
- and, if the mistake, can’t be corrected, try to find a way to ameliorate the situation.
A good lesson indeed.