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Study shows doctor errors are often obscured by those making them

It is an unfortunate reality that there are instances in which a negligent physician will make a mistake and lead to a Texan having to deal with delayed treatment and worsened condition after a failure to diagnose. There is an expectation when a person goes for medical care that the treatment will be aboveboard and all the information will be disclosed even if a mistake was made. This is particularly true with a primary care physician who is generally supposed to have a close relationship with patients. The reality, however, is that a number of primary care physicians admitted that they would keep information from their patients if they made a mistake.

A poll of almost 300 primary care doctors revealed that a minority would disclose a medical error to a patient. They were given two hypothetical situations in which cancer was diagnosed and they were asked to evaluate it. Most gave a limited apology for the error or did not apologize at all. They did not provide an explanation as to what happened, nor did they provide information regarding how it happened. The responses did not meet what patients expect from their doctors, nor did they meet the national guidelines.

The idea of the study was to look into how doctors perceived these mistakes and what influenced them in disclosing what happened and how much of it. The more the mistake was to be blamed on the doctor him or herself and the greater seriousness of the mistake, the less likely they were to disclose what occurred to the patients. Authors of the study expected there to be more honesty with the doctors even though there are ethics involved in doing so and doctors are supposed to adhere to that ethical responsibility regardless of the consequences.

The decision not to be fully honest with patients can do more damage over the short and long-terms. If there is disclosure, it can lessen the harm that patients might experience. Those who have been harmed by a doctor's mistake need to know how medical professionals tend to think in these types of situations. If there is a belief that there were doctor errors that made a patient worse or led to his or her death, it is important have a full investigation conducted to consider a legal filing. A lawyer experienced in medical mistakes can help.

Source: medicalxpress, "Many primary care doctors are reluctant to talk about medical errors, study finds," Nov. 28, 2016

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