MONDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who trust that
their doctor would tell them about a medical error are much more
forgiving than those who doubt their physician would own up to the
mistake, a new study finds.
But being more forgiving doesn't mean patients are less likely
Researchers surveyed a representative sample of Illinois
residents and found that about 40 percent had personal experience
with medical errors or had a family member or close friend who had
been affected by a medical error.
Only 10 percent of respondents believed their doctors would be
"very likely" to tell them if a medical error occurred. About 25
percent said they would file a medical malpractice lawsuit if they
were told about a medical error. Those who said they trusted their
doctor were no less or more likely to sue.
Among respondents who were the most confident that their doctor
would disclose the error, 60 percent said they would still
recommend the doctor, compared with 30 percent of those who were
skeptical about medical error disclosure.
The study is published in the November issue of the journal
"It appears that patients' responses to actual medical error disclosure vary by their perception of the providers' likelihood to disclose medical errors in principle, rather than the level of information revealed," Lorens A. Helmchen, of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and co-authors said in a news release from the journal publisher.
Establishing a clear policy on error disclosure may help
health-care providers fulfill their obligation to tell patients
about errors while minimizing the legal and professional damage
caused by disclosure, the researchers concluded.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers tips to
prevent medical errors.