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Survey examines disclosure of medical errors.

CHICAGO -- Four percent of primary care physicians and third-year medical students surveyed in a regional study reported that they made errors resulting in a patient's death but did not disclose them to their institution, reported Lauris C. Kaldjian, M.D.

He surveyed faculty, residents, and third-year medical students in the departments of internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics at two medical schools and three hospitals in the Midwest and Northeast. The 538 responses were weighted more heavily toward residents and students than faculty members, he said at the combined annual meeting of the Central Society for Clinical Research and the Midwestern section of the American Federation for Medical Research.

Of respondents, 17% did not disclose to their institution medical errors that prolonged the course of treatment or caused discomfort, and 12% did not disclose to the patient. But more primary care physicians and students voluntarily disclosed medical errors than those who did not, said Dr. Kaldjian, a bioethicist at the University of Iowa. His work was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Also, 27% of the respondents revealed to the patient a medical error that prolonged therapy, and 18% disclosed such a mistake to their institutions.

Among fears, the most common reason survey respondents did not disclose a medical error was fear of a negative reaction from the patient or family (88%).

Women in the study were more inclined than men to disclose their errors to patients. Faculty members appeared more willing than trainees to disclose errors to their patients but not as willing to disclose to their colleagues, Dr. Kaldjian said.
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Author:Louden, Kathleen
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:263
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