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Survey Shows Disturbing Number of Doctors Willing to Hide Harmful Medical Errors

If a doctor makes a mistake and it harms you, then you expect the doctor to admit that an error happened. In any case, you don't expect your doctor to hide a clinical mistake that causes harm.

Shocking, therefore, are the findings of a recent survey of doctors. 

When asked if it is acceptable to hide a harmful medical error, 14 percent of doctors said, "it depends," and 7 percent said yes.

While 78 percent of doctors said that it's never okay to hide or avoid revealing a harmful medical mistake, it is truly disturbing that even one doctor would think it's acceptable to hide an error from an injured patient.

In fact, the survey shows that the number of doctors who think it's okay to hide an error has increased in recent years. Two years ago, 91 percent of doctors said it's never acceptable to hide a harmful error, and six years ago nearly 95 percent said it's never okay.

Compare those percentages to the most recent figure -- 78 percent.

Bioethicists and patients alike find the trend disturbing.

"What doctor wants to self-incriminate?"

That was the response from a urologist who responded to the survey. While it is difficult to fathom how a medical professional could be so un-professional and callous, negligence on the part of doctors is a reality.

And make no mistake: the Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association clearly states that doctors must "disclose medical errors if they have occurred in the patient's care."

No matter how much or how little harm a medical error causes, patients have a right to know when something goes wrong.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by any form of medical malpractice, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your case. Holding a doctor or hospital accountable can not only lead to compensation for the victim; a successful medical malpractice claim can also help prevent such errors in the future.

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