Medical error disclosure issues

A Florida patient who is not recovering well after a medical procedure might wonder if the procedure may have involved problems or errors. In the past, a patient might suffer such an error and never be informed. Various physician concerns might result in failure to disclose an error, including fear of a medical malpractice claim as well as embarrassment over the situation. However, statistics indicate that disclosure has improved in recent years.

According to studies, patients’ concerns in cases of medical errors are that all harmful errors would be disclosed with explanation of the reasons for their occurrence. Patients are also interested in being informed about how the effects are to be minimized and how the care provider will endeavor to prevent such an error from happening again. Although most medical professionals agree that full disclosure is appropriate, statistics show that more than half of physicians would only partially disclose, mentioning an adverse event without providing full information. Approximately 42 percent would provide full disclosure while 3 percent would give no disclosure of an error.

Because a physician’s concern about litigation in a medical error case is a realistic possibility, this is an issue that must be considered in endeavoring to improve full disclosure efforts. Statistics demonstrate that litigation is less likely when medical professionals are forthright and apologetic about their errors. Training may play a role in improving disclosure rates as formal training related to the issue is limited. The deny-and-defend approach traditionally used by hospitals must be replaced with approaches involving disclosure.

An individual who has been physically harmed because of a medical mistake who has been fully informed of the situation may still choose to file a medical malpractice suit to recover damages related to the effects of the error. An attorney may be helpful in compiling evidence in such a case.

SourceAgency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Error Disclosure“, November 01, 2014