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Plus ça change: Problems with memory and the importance of documentation (again)

02 March 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 3

A sure sign of ageing (call it experience, if you will) is the realisation that ‘we've been here before’. In 1997, I published an article in this journal concerning practitioners' recall of events when they were involved in perinatal litigation (Symon, 1997). In that article, I reported several cases where midwives, on being made aware that a legal claim had been made, were unable to remember a specific event (usually a birth) and had constructed their report based entirely on the case notes. For example, in one case when a claim was made about a stillbirth 18 months after the relevant date, three midwives wrote:

1) ‘I confirm that it is my handwriting in the… notes… I have no recollection of the incident.’

2) ‘On reading the notes… I have no recollection of the case.’

3) ‘Following refreshing my memory about this lady by reading her case notes I find that I remain unable to recollect this situation.’

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