Beebe and O'Neil

Majority of doctors still not fully reporting when errors occur

Everybody makes mistakes, but when it comes to medical professionals, these mistakes can prove injurious to their patients. When Connecticut patients do fall victim to medical errors, though, there is a good chance that they may never know about it. Doctors have often avoided disclosing mistakes to their patients out of fear of being sued for medical malpractice. This behavior seems to be diminishing, but recent studies show that there's still a long way to go before full disclosure of medical errors are the norm.

Recent patient surveys have discovered exactly what a patient wants to know when they fall victim to medical malpractice. These factors include full disclosure of an error, an explanation of why it occurred, how the effects of the error are going to be minimized and how future errors of this nature will be avoided. Another study asked doctors how often they reach this level of full disclosure, with the survey defining the term as an explicit statement of error, and results showed that patients aren't always getting what they expect.

In three percent of cases, doctors reported that they wouldn't admit an error occurred at all. By comparison, doctors in 42 percent of cases said they'd explicitly state that an error had occurred during treatment. A big finding of the survey, though, was that 56 percent of doctors would state that something adverse occurred without explicitly admitting to an error. This falls far short of what patients hope for.

Patients visit medical professionals for their help, but in some cases, doctors end up causing more harm than good. When medical errors occur, it can lead to injury and in some cases even death. This makes medical error disclosure important. Whether or not an error is admitted to, however, doesn't dictate whether an injured person has any recourse. With legal help, a patient who falls victim to medical malpractice may be able to recover compensation for their injury.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "Error Disclosure", November 01, 2014

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