Be honest about medical errors, study says

Be honest about medical errors, study says

Clients are more likely to forgive your mistake if you're upfront with them about it.
Mar 04, 2011
By staff

People who believe their doctor or hospital would inform them of a medical error are more forgiving than those who doubt their healthcare provider would disclose the error, reports a study in a recent issue of Medical Care. For healthcare providers, publicly and credibly adopting a policy of routine error disclosure may be the best approach to minimizing the impact of medical errors, suggests the new research, led by the of University of Illinois, Chicago.

Researchers surveyed a representative sample of Illinois residents regarding medical errors. Based on a hypothetical scenario, 10 percent of survey respondents believed their physicians would be “very likely” to tell them a medical error occurred. About one-fourth said they would file a medical malpractice lawsuit if they were told about a medical error.

Respondents who thought their doctor would disclose medical errors were no more (or less) likely to say they’d sue. This was true even in a scenario where the healthcare provider offered to correct the problem through free additional medical treatment and possibly a financial settlement. However, people who trusted their doctor to inform them about the error were more forgiving. Of the respondents who were most confident that their doctor or hospital would disclose the error, more than 60 percent said they would still recommend the provider. Only 30 percent of those who were skeptical about disclosure would continue to recommend the doctor or hospital.

What’s your veterinary practice’s policy in the event of a medical error? Click here for the story of how one practice dealt with the aftermath of a major mistake.

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