Medical Errors & Disclosure
Side Note: When a significant medical error occurs, it is very hard for a physician to know what to do. Depending on what state you live in, the ramifications of admitting a medical error can be vastly different. In some states, if a physician offers a patient an apology, it can be used as evidence against him or her in a medical malpractice case. In other states, physicians are protected and can offer such an apology without it being used against them. As suppliers of medical malpractice insurance and physician advocates, we understand that this is a tough issue.
The article below discusses how physicians have multiple imperatives to openly and honestly disclose medical errors. While no one would question the theoretical imperative to disclose an error, the reality of doing so is much harder and less obvious. For example, despite the Joint Commission requiring that accredited organizations have in place an error reporting mechanism, less than 55% of physicians know how to report errors and less than 40% knew which errors had to be reported. This is due to many factors, including physician fear, a culture of “shame and blame,” and lack of training in how to disclose errors appropriately. Read on for further discussion of this complex topic.
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Medical error calls for honest disclosure
By: Ethics Forum
Posted: Sept. 12, 2011
Scenario: How do physicians overcome barriers to communication with patients who have been harmed?
Steps should be taken to encourage and support doctors in reporting adverse events to patients who have been harmed and their families.