Doctors Eye Apologies for Medical Mistakes
A reader brings this story to my attention. I have written before that there is a disconnect between patients’ and physicians’ expectations when it comes to medical error:
Patients wanted disclosure of all harmful errors and sought information about what happened, why the error happened, how the error’s consequences will be mitigated, and how recurrences will be prevented . . .
Although physicians disclosed the adverse event, they often avoided stating that an error occurred, why the error happened, or how recurrences would be prevented . . .
There is some data from small studies that full disclosure of medical errors reduces the risk of punitive action. Mistakes in medicine unfortunately happen – physicians are only human. Communication, and apologies when necessary, are key when it comes to bridging the “medical error disconnect” between physicians and patients.