Risk Management Study

What should you do in case of medical errors?

What should you do in case of an error?

Should you run an apologize to a patient or should you simply go on as if nothing had happened?

Should you simply send a patient a disclosure of the error?

As with everything I will say that it depends.  I’m not a lawyer, hence, I cannot provide legal advice.  On the other hand, put yourself in the place of the patient and think whether you will prefer to be told or ignored.

From a recent study, “Risk Managers, Physicians, and Disclosure of Harmful Medical Errors”, I found the following results:

  • More risk managers (81 percent) than physicians (39 percent) were aware that an error-reporting system was present at their hospital.
  • More risk managers than physicians strongly agreed that serious errors should be disclosed to patients (70 percent versus 49 percent).
  • Physicians (39 percent) were more likely than risk managers (21 percent) to provide a full apology recognizing the harm caused.

Should you find yourself in this situation I will simply recommend the following:

  • Ask for advice from a healthcare attorney, a risk manager or an organization representative;
  • Never lie.

As a rule I prefer to shy away from an apology as the same may be construed as an admission of guilt.  On the other hand, if I was the patient, I would prefer to have someone stating the facts and providing options in a warm and caring manner rather than a cold apology.

You decide the best approach but make sure to look for advice before taking any action.