Why Doctors Don’t Disclose Errors: It Isn’t Fear of Medical Malpractice Suits

According to two studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors’ hesitation to self-report their errors is not related to fear of law suits. The studies compared the rate of disclosure between Canadian doctors (who get serious protections from law suits) with the disclosure rates of doctors in the United States. The comparison showed no difference. “The external malpractice environment doesn’t have the impact on doctors’ attitudes about disclosure that we thought it did,” said one of the study’s authors, Thomas Gallagher, an associate professor of Washington School of Medicine.

(Choosing Your Words Carefully: How Physicians Would Disclose Harmful Medical Errors to Patients and U.S. and Canadian Physician’s Attitudes and Experiences Regarding Disclosing Errors to Patients, available for purchase at; http://archinte.ama-assn.org/content/vol166/issue15/index.dtl)

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