USA Today column: How doctor-patient communication can reduce lawsuits

My column was published in this morning’s USA Today: How doctors can reduce medical errors, lawsuits.

I discuss the contentious issue of medical malpractice, and explain how doctor-patient communication is key to improving patient safety and reducing lawsuits in the first place: “Doctors also must create and maintain open lines of communication with patients, which is critical to preventing lawsuits in the first place. Doctors have to better explain, and patients better understand, that not all adverse outcomes are due to physician errors. Although the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 seminal report, ‘To Err is Human,’ concluded that medical errors caused up to 100,000 patient deaths a year, 90% of those deaths were attributed to systemwide procedural failures at medical institutions.”

The initial focus of the piece was to examine the emotional impact of lawsuits on doctors, using data from a recent Journal of the American College of Surgeons study, but this was revised during the editing process.

In a few weeks, I’ll post my draft of the column here.

Enjoy the piece.

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