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Physicians Refuse Disclosure of Major Medical Errors

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:56pm
Researchers at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine reported last week that doctors do not disclose to patients when they make a mistake. Lauris Kaldijan and colleagues tested physicians who said they would disclose a medical error to see if they actually do so.

The findings—
  • 97% of physicians said they would disclose an error that caused the patient minor harm, however, in practice, just 41% did so
  • 93% of physicians said they would disclose an error that caused major harm or death, however, in practice, just a scant 5% actually did so
This study punches major holes in the logic that passing “I’m sorry” laws would encourage more physicians to be honest with their patients. The logic is that doctors will be more honest if they don't have to worry about malpractice lawsuits. I’ve previously discussed this in Shielding Doctors From Accountability. The problem with “I’m sorry” laws is that they run into physician egos. Like most people, doctors don’t want to admit when they are wrong. The notion that a doctor would apologize for killing your mother is quaint notion in State Houses, but becomes a fairytale in the real world.
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