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Research looks at physician willingness to disclose errors

Pennsylvania residents who are concerned about the quality of the medical care they receive have good reason for their worries. Medical errors are known to occur in a variety of settings from the pharmacy to the operating room and beyond. Some of these mistakes may have lifelong and even fatal consequences for patients. Knowing how to stay protected against such errors while still being able to trust in the quality of care is a balancing act indeed.

Now new research takes a look at how willing primary care doctors might actually be to admit that an error has happened. It seems that physicians who hold patient communication in high regard may be more likely to disclose such information than those who do not have this as a key value. The seriousness of the error and the level of personal responsibility that a physician felt with a case were also noted factors that might make a doctor more likely to share such information.

In the study, participating physicians were presented with two scenarios in which errors occured and communication and coordination of care were some of the factors involved. Less than half of the participants said they would volunteer an apology and the majority were unlikely to proactively provide information about the errors. Those that might talk about them would be most likely to do so only in vague terms.

Pennsylvania patients who want to learn more about a potential medical mistake might find it helpful to talk with a lawyer. This can provide insight into opportunities for compensation.

Source: Becker's Hospital Review,"Most PCPs would only partially disclose medical errors, survey reveals," Emily Rappleye, Nov. 30, 2016

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