While healthcare providers typically have tended to steer away from discussing medical errors with patients primarily in an effort to avoid lawsuits or embarrassment, the tables are starting to turn in regard to what most physicians feel is appropriate behavior when a mistake is made. Thus, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality has posted a new Patient Safety Primer that supports a shift toward full disclosure.
Research has shown that when it comes to talking about medical errors there are certain pieces of information that patients feel must be a part of such a conversation, and when they are, adverse reactions can often be avoided. Those components include:
- Mention of all harmful errors
- Explanation as to why the error occurred
- Clear communication of how the effects of the error will be minimized
- Steps the physician (and organization) will take to prevent recurrences
- Acknowledgement of responsibility and an apology by the physician
This primer, available via AHRQ’s online Patient Safety Network, includes links to over a dozen studies and articles supporting the need for more transparency and consistency in addressing medical errors as well as the need for more sufficient guidelines for physicians in how to best approach the subject.
To read AHRQ’s Patient Safety Primer on Error Disclosure, click here.
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