Divulging Med Mal Errors: What It Can Mean for You

Side Note: Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. While we all know this, society generally holds physicians to a higher standard. This is because physicians treat patients, and when physicians make mistakes, it is people that suffer the consequences. People are harmed and sometimes catastrophically. While med mal errors can often raise physician liability rates, how else is the physician affected? What other kinds of impact does it have on him or her?

While it is usually easy to determine how patients are harmed and impacted, and the med mal lawsuit process is designed to address these ways, it is often much harder to tell how physicians are impacted when they commit med mal. This is primarily due to a “code of silence” that physicians are either explicitly told to abide by or implicitly understand to be the culture of medicine. Keeping silent can be devastating for physicians. Physicians often feel tremendous guilt for their errors and this translates to a staggeringly high suicide rate among physicians –especially among those who recently committed a significant error. The irony is that physicians are so good at taking care of others, but neglect to take care of themselves and get support when they need it. While it can be scary to divulge an error, the article below profiles three individuals who did and the surprising consequences.

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Revealing their medical errors: Why three doctors went public
By: Kevin B. O’Reilly
From: amednews staff
Posted: Aug. 15, 2011

Patient FilesIn September 2010, Kimberly Hiatt made a medical error. The critical care nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital miscalculated and gave a fragile 8-month-old baby 1.4 grams of calcium chloride, 10 times the correct dose of 140 milligrams.

The mistake contributed to the death of the child and led to Hiatt’s firing and an investigation by the state’s nursing commission. In April 2011, devastated by the loss of her job and an infant patient, Hiatt committed suicide.

Original article is here.

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