Medical Errors Disclosure Can Help Physicians and Patients

Second study suggests patients give higher quality ratings when staff report mistakes
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians are willing to share their experiences of making diagnostic errors, and analyzing them systematically helps point the way to improve future diagnoses, according to a study in the Nov. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, while a second study in the same issue found that patients give higher quality ratings when adverse events are disclosed.

Gordon D. Schiff, M.D., of Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed 583 cases where there were diagnostic errors and found that physicians were open about their experiences, and patterns of errors pointed to ways in which diagnostic performance could be improved in future.

Lenny Lopez, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues looked at the 845 adverse events reported by 603 surgical acute patients and found that only 40 percent were disclosed by medical personnel, but the disclosure of some of the events was associated with patients giving staff higher quality ratings.

"These findings remain even in cases in which the adverse events were deemed preventable (i.e., errors) by physician review," Lopez and colleagues conclude. "Also, disclosure is essential to patient-centered care because it respects patient autonomy and truth telling. Our findings suggest that the disclosure gap remains prevalent even though patients rate their care favorably when adverse events are disclosed. Interventions to increase disclosure may contribute to patients' perceptions of quality."

Abstract - Schiff
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Abstract - Lopez
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