Deliberate Indifference & Reckless Disregard


Late afternoon traffic. Seven lanes of freeway moving at 70 MPH. A lot going on for drivers to pay attention to as vehicles enter and exit the freeway, moving in and out of lanes.

As I navigate this challenging and constantly changing environment I happen to glance over at the vehicle next to me. The driver, at 70MPH, is texting. Mmm. Interesting.

As humans, what keeps us between the lines, on our side of the road, and for the most part in alignment with the rules of the road is the conscious-and unconscious- intention by most to not inflict pain and suffering on self and others.

Humans, innately, are wired to move toward pleasure and away from pain.

When we are not consciously thinking about self and others, and we make choices that places others in jeopardy, there is what the law calls Deliberate Indifference & Reckless Disregard. This is when injury may not be “intentional”; however, harm can- or has been- caused.

Deliberate indifference is texting while driving. To put self and others at risk of serious injury or death for the purpose of a text message certainly falls under the very *definition of Reckless Disregard.

Coraism: Behavior begets Behavior.

Is Deliberate Indifference and Reckless Disregard an act and behavior restricted to one activity in our lives? Or, if we are exhibiting this behavior in one area, is it likely we are exhibiting it in another-behavior begets behavior. Specifically, how is this playing out in our interpersonal transactions?

When it comes to operating machinery, there are clear laws, definitions, fines, repercussions, and certainly a visual and physical impact of our actions.

What is the impact when we apply that same indifference, that same disregard, within our communication with others? Do we see the damage? Do we feel the costs to our relationships and impact on our future interactions?

We can -and do-drive down the highway at 70MPH -while texting- in our interpersonal interactions with others. How we interact with others is potentially wreaking havoc in people’s lives.

Reflecting on a recently received voice message at 4:40 on a Friday, I applied this concept. “Hello, we have your test results. Please call on Tuesday so we can talk about them, as I will not be in Monday. Thank you and have a good weekend.” Did this person know they just emotionally side-swiped their patient?

This sort of disregard and indifference to the consequences of one’s actions and words DOES have an impact on people. Although I am fine, and the news ended up not being earth shattering, I could have certainly done without the “impact” of not knowing for three days!

Just like minor fender-benders. We may end up fine; however, the impact does require us to deal with the fall out of indifference and disregard.

In our interaction with others, are we leaving behind messes to clean up, damages to be repaired, and a tangle of traffic as we go on our merry way? If we do, are we aware?


Life moves fast. We leave people voice messages, we shoot out those text questions, hit send before reading drafted emails, pop-up with task-driven questions or directions. Are we pausing and consciously thinking about the person receiving the message? Or simply checking off a task with deliberate indifference and reckless disregard for the consequences of our acts on others?

Are you consciously at the driver seat of your communication? Or unconsciously driving down the highway and not paying attention to the impact your actions have self and others?

*Deliberate indifference is the conscious or reckless disregard of the consequences of one’s acts or omissions. It entails something more than negligence but is satisfied by something less than acts or omissions for the very purpose of causing harm or with knowledge that harm will result.

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