A Doctor Who Admitted His Fault


In the 19th century when medical technology did not develop, Emil Theodore Kocher who was professor at the University of Bern in Switzerland was known as an authority on thyroidectomy. It’s because while the surgery was prohibited in some countries due to its high mortality rate, he performed it safely with thorough disinfection and excellent techniques.

In 1882, however, some cases of serious side effects of thyroidectomy were published in the medical community. After learning the content, Kocher immediately checked the patients who had gone through his operation. As a result, the patients whose thyroid gland was partially removed were okay, but many of the patients who had it completely removed showed side effects. If he revealed this fact, he would have an indelible stain on his reputation.

However, Kocher admitted his fault and put all his efforts to find out the correct surgical method. Kocher’s study result significantly reduced the side effects of thyroid surgery, and for the first time as a surgeon he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contribution to the advancement of medical techniques.

It is not easy to accept and correct one’s own mistake. Kocher’s Nobel Prize shines more brightly not only because of his achievements as a doctor, but also because of his humble attitude of admitting his mistake.