Who's sorry now?
Sure, there were sometimes "unexpected outcomes." "Bad babies," "noncompliant" patients or "idiopathic" symptoms might confound a dutiful physician's best efforts. But mistakes on the part of caregivers were dismissed as rare and, if they should occur, shameful.
Today, according to two landmark surveys conducted in January by the American College of Physician Executives, three out of four physician leaders concede they know a doctor in their community whom they would avoid because they think he or she is prone to medical mistakes.
Nearly 60 percent report there is a hospital in their community they'd spurn because they do not trust the competence of its personnel.
Current medical literature is full of admissions of the fallibility of physicians and health care institutions.
So how should doctors respond when they recognize they've done something wrong?
Four out of five of the physician survey respondents believe that the doctor and hospital owe the patient and family an apology.
Three out of five physician executives are convinced that a genuine expression of regret by caregivers who have erred would help reduce malpractice lawsuits.
The general public agrees. Three out of four patients in a companion survey say they'd be at least "somewhat" likely to take legal action if they or a family member were the victim of a medical error. But nine in 10 assert they'd be more likely to sue if the doctor or organization were trying to cover up the blunder.
Still, for all that, only about half of a group of 1,019 U.S. physician executives reported that their own organization is actively encouraging doctors and staff to volunteer an, "I'm sorry," when a lapse has injured a patient.
"Throughout American health care, mistakes happen," summarized a senior executive at a California hospital in response to the ACPE survey. "Nevertheless, covering up is a tradition of much longer standing than apologizing."
Blame the lawyers
ACPE's surveys of physician and patient opinion on medical mistakes and on how to deal with them reveals a growing consensus nationwide that honesty is the best policy when physicians and health care institutions err.
Members of the College were polled online between January 4 and January 10, 2006. More than 700 of those who responded hold managerial positions in hospitals or hospital systems, group practices, academic, government or military health care organizations. Ninety are chief executive officers.
Their responses were paired with those of a national sample of 1,008 adults over the age of 18 (representing past or future patients) surveyed by telephone January 4-8, 2006, by International Communications Research, of Media, Pa. Margin of error for the latter poll, according to ICR, is +/- 3.09 percent at the 95-percent confidence level.
In the past, openness about mistakes has not been the health care sector's traditional tactic. Or at least it has not been the approach customarily recommended to doctors and hospitals by defense attorneys and insurers in an era of rampant malpractice litigation.
"Although I believe that apologies should be made," commented a physician executive at an Ohio academic medical center in response to the survey, "our lawyers and risk management personnel are very much against it and block us from doing it."
Concurred the medical director of an Ohio group practice: "The lawyers in our agency have gone so far as to instruct the doctors NOT to make condolence calls or letters. When I get called by a family that a patient has died, I am forbidden from calling them back or sending a letter. Damn lawyers screw everything up."
Not surprisingly, that was a theme often sounded--in various forms--by the physicians polled. Burdened by hefty malpractice insurance premiums and a virtual certainty that at some point in their careers a dissatisfied patient will sue them, doctors focused much of their wrath on the lawyers who represent aggrieved plaintiffs.
"Trial lawyers are not about making things work better," railed a physician in a Texas group practice. "They are about suing anyone who doesn't get the perfect outcome."
"Only medical tort reform, or a 'worker's comp'-like compensation system for adverse outcomes, will allow us to truly address medical errors in a transparent and collaborative, non-threatening, non-adversarial environment," suggested an academic physician executive in Pennsylvania. "Discussing errors up front with patients [while] attorney ads [run] nearly full time on daytime TV encouraging patients to 'get the money you deserve, even for the smallest error,' will NEVER happen ... [not] when you know that there are 40 or 50 attorneys willing to take money from your insurer (and not necessarily give it to the poor patient who suffered from the error).... It is an unfortunate fundamental flaw in our system that we have tort law as the DRIVING force in our system ... Darn shame."
Tort reform needed
Among the one in five physician leaders who declared themselves ambivalent about whether doctors and staff ought to be encouraged to make apologies for medical errors, the need for tort reform as a precursor to any such policy was usually cited.
"While I believe that apologies are definitely appropriate and will reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit," wrote a senior Virginia hospital executive, "physicians will not follow this approach reliably without prior tort reform."
Cautioned a government physician in Puerto Rico: "There are too many unscrupulous persons that will take advantage of this situation and will want to make some money out of our disclosures, including the 'ambulance chaser' lawyers, relatives and 'friends' of the family."
"Lawsuits are motivated by simple greed," complained an Arizona group practice physician. "People sue because they can. Period. Mentality of victimization fueled by 'free money.' Radical tort reform is the only solution."
"Lets get tort reform in place NATIONWIDE, first," urged a New Yorker. "Then we can talk about apologizing. We practice in a nation where the people are 'illiterate' about the realities of medicine and the predatory law practitioners take advantage of that."
Patient awareness high
Several respondents blamed unrealistic expectations of patients for mounting malpractice claims.
"Most of the public believe the error rate should be zero and don't understand that complications will and should occur for a variety of reasons, including the patient health and co-morbidities," wrote the medical director of a managed care organization in Washington.
But is the general public truly as naive about the imperfections of health care systems and providers as some physicians maintain?
In fact, the patient survey found 71 percent of potential patients declared that, yes, they are "familiar with studies, articles and news reports about thousands of Americans dying each year as a result of medical errors."
True, three out of four said neither they nor any family member had ever been the victim of a medical error or mistake. But the finding that almost one in four claimed personal or close-hand experience of a diagnostic or treatment error indicates how far from rare such events are.
The physician executives themselves emphasized the point repeatedly. Invariably, they echoed the Institute of Medicine's title terminology.
"Being human I have made mistakes myself," wrote a Massachusetts hospital director. "Thankfully none have been potentially life threatening, but I have always considered it my ethical responsibility to acknowledge, inform and apologize. In ALL instances the patients have been most grateful and all have been understanding."
"We are all human, and prone to errors," concurred an Ohio colleague, "so trying to hide them only promotes the appearance of not caring about our patients and their welfare. In many cases, as suggested in the IOM report, errors are system-related, not individual practitioner-related, so acknowledging an error and the process planned to correct the system at least reassures patients and their families that others may not experience similar problems."
Indeed, more than half the patients surveyed readily conceded that perfection is too much to expect of any health care provider. Fifty-three percent agreed with the statement, "Medical science is so complex that medical errors are bound to happen."
The most trusting segments--affirming a belief that "medical science is so advanced that medical errors should be very rare"--were people under the age of 34 and those over 65. Acceptance of medical error as ineradicable tended to rise with education and income. Respondents earning more than $75,000 a year and those with post-collegiate degrees were most likely to allow that mistakes can occur.
The public, though--for lack of reliable comparative or insider information, no doubt--were much less skeptical than doctors about the quality of the physicians and hospitals serving their communities.
While 77 percent of the ACPE members said they'd avoid a medical colleague because of medical mistakes, only 20 percent of the patient sample shared that negative judgment of any doctor in their community.
And while 42 percent of physician executives condemned one or more local hospitals as mistake-ridden, only about a quarter of the general public--24 percent--had the same reservation.
However, fully 85 percent of the general populace confessed they had never done any research at all into whether a doctor or hospital in their community had committed medical errors.
The most common reason cited for continuing the practice of stonewalling when a medical mistake occurs was simply put by an Illinois group practice head: "Apologies ... for medical errors are used against you in court."
Agreed a New Jersey colleague: "Making an apology is an open invitation for a suit and only makes the plaintiff's lawyer's job easier."
That standard argument was repeated by physician executives from Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
Ironically, Illinois and the first nine in that roster of states now have laws on the books that allow health care providers to apologize for mistakes and offer expressions of regret without their words being used against them in court. Either the ACPE respondents are unaware of this protection or find it less than effective on the down-and-dirty mat of actual malpractice litigation.
Neverthess, according to Sorry Works!, a coalition of physicians, patients, insurers, lawyers, hospital administrators and researchers dedicated to promotion of a "'middle ground' solution to the medical malpractice crisis," 20 state legislatures at last count have passed laws aimed at insulating doctors from incrimination by contrition. Many other states are debating such statutes.
Meanwhile, Senators Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. and Barack Obama, D-Ill. have introduced a federal bill called the "National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation (MEDiC) Act of 2005" that includes "protection for any apology made by a health care provider to the patient" during a mandatory period of negotiation for fair compensation for an injury.
Several health systems have already instituted programs that serve as models for the MEDiC Act, most notably the government's Veterans Health Administration.
"It is the policy of our facility and of the VHA in general to reveal to patients (or their families) any error or accident and to inform them of their right to seek restitution through either a disability claim or tort action," the chief of staff of a New York VA hospital pointed out in response to the ACPE survey.
Steve Kraman, MD, former chief of staff of the VA Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., says that a policy of full disclosure of errors even when patients had no inkling something had gone wrong--"directly, sympathetically, completely, accepting full responsibility (apology), describing what we have done to prevent future incidents" and pro-actively advising the patient to retain an experienced malpractice attorney to help in negotiating compensation--resulted in 170 settlements and only three trials (just one lost) between 1987 and 2003, when he retired from the VA. The average payout was $16,000.
A similar policy adopted by the University of Michigan Health System in 2001, according to chief risk officer Richard Boothman, halved the number of pending lawsuits and reduced defense litigation costs from an average of $65,000 per case to $35,000--for a cumulative savings of $2 million annually. (See sidebar.)
A senior executive at a Maryland hospital remains unconvinced. "The research and reports from the VA lack credibility," he declared.
But a peer at a group practice in the same state countered, "I don't think this is an open question anymore; the data are in, and open communication (including apologies when appropriate) results in fewer lawsuits. Especially if the hospital/insurer are willing to proactively work financially with bad outcome situations that are not negligence--that's money well spent."
Agreed a Utah academic medical center director from first-hand experience, "We have an open disclosure policy.... We attempt to compensate the patient fairly and work with them as soon as an error is recognized. We feel we often avoid the tort system completely. The resolution is much faster and we feel [it's] less expensive. We have good data on the decreased time to resolution. The decreased cost is more difficult to document at this time but the trend is in the right direction."
Disclosure and apologies
Many of the 320 physician executives who appended comments to their survey responses criticized the wording of the central question: "Do you think patients would be less likely to sue if medical mistakes were disclosed and apologies issued to the victim or the victim's family?"
"There may be some confusion between 'apology' and 'full disclosure,' which I believe is not well delineated in this questionnaire," noted a California academic leader.
An Indiana hospital executive called the conflation "misleading."
"I think that apologies are different [from] disclosure," suggested a Canadian hospital physician. "I think that generally when things go wrong patients and families need to be told by the person that they have a relationship with (usually the physician) that something didn't go as expected and the health care worker can express regret that they had a less than ideal outcome."
A retired Kentucky physician summed up another repeated objection: "All doctors and institutions make medical errors," he wrote, "[but] I believe that your questions about whether disclosure should be done are moot. The [American Medical Association] code of medical ethics requires reporting of errors to patients. Aside from the issue of honesty, it is a matter of informed consent. The patient deserves to have the information before future decisions are made. Non-disclosure is not an ethical or even legal option for a physician."
Still another frequent question was summed up well by a Missouri group practice director: "I think apologizing for the purpose of avoiding lawsuits is a less than honorable motive, which if the sole reason that apology is being considered makes the whole act a pretense. Patients and physicians are human and need to understand each other better.... Our fine legal system has done its best to polarize patients and physicians when errors occur, such that physicians fear honest disclosure will be used against them and patients suffer from the lack of understanding of what happened and why, as well as how their doctor feels about the mistake. Most patients want to understand these things and to gain some assurance that steps have been taken to avoid future mistakes of the same type."
One in six respondents, in fact, volunteered a sentiment similar to that of a Minnesota group practice physician: "It's the right thing to do, to apologize for one's mistakes. I don't really care about the medical malpractice thing."
Over and over, the adjectives "right," "ethical" or "honorable" were used to describe a broad conviction that disclosure/apology is essential.
As a Michigan physician pointed out, "I suspect that nowadays many don't even know that the full quote, by Alexander Pope, is 'To err is human, to forgive divine'.... An apology, made sincerely and with genuine concern for the aggrieved party, is only a starting point. The circle is closed when there is forgiveness and healing."
Several respondents emphasized that the patient is not the only victim in need of compassion when a medical mistake causes injury.
"I am also the Patient Safety Officer," wrote a senior Wisconsin hospital executive, "and [I] have been encouraging physicians to disclose errors and as appropriate apologize. I have found that this process helps physicians come to grips with errors and helps them heal."
"We have practiced this philosophy for several years," observed a peer in Pennsylvania. "Not only is it the right and humane thing to do, it is healing for families, physicians and staff."
How to say you're sorry
There was much disagreement among members of the ACPE who commented on the survey as to what constitutes a suitable expression of regret to a patient who's been the subject of a medical mistake.
"Not so much an apology as a disclosure of error and an 'I'm sorry this happened to you,'" counseled a Georgia group practice physician.
"Apology needs to pertain to being sorry that we erred, rather than 'we're sorry that this happened to you,'" argued a senior Pennsylvania hospital executive for the opposition.
Not surprisingly, under the circumstances, physician leaders frequently stressed that their doctors and health care teams can't simply be cast loose to stammer out impromptu explanations and mea culpas when things have gone wrong.
"We have a 'full disclosure' policy [and we're] in the process of training a core of med staff leaders in how to do this well," reported a senior hospital executive in Vermont. "... Every apology and full disclosure is done by the attending MD only after a brief coaching session with an expert colleague, and then the disclosure and apology are done with the coach. These events are too infrequent in any one doctor's career for all to [handle them] well. Our natural defensiveness combined with our liability fear tends to drive behaviors that are less than full disclosure and less than effective apology."
"My hospital does encourage disclosure of errors and I am a member of a 'truth-telling' team," echoed a colleague in New Jersey. "However, disclosure must be done properly. There are right and wrong ways to do it--the facts must be in order, explanations done with compassion, the right people present, compensation decisions made if appropriate in advance, the attendings on board with the decisions to divulge information to family about what the hospital intends to do in order to prevent another incident, which outcomes require disclosure depending on what the consequences were to the patient--and certainly, letting the patients and family know that we do not hide errors, but our culture is to disclose [them] irrespective of consequences to us.
"Most hospitals per [Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations] regs have a policy of 'disclosure of unanticipated outcomes,' the euphemism for admitting medical errors," the executive continued. "Training specific staff members on handling these situations is very important, because the staff [who reveal] what occurred are in the 'eye of the storm.'
"Families and patients can react badly to such news and the staff needs to remain calm and promote reconciliation with reasons [for] what happened and why and what will be done to prevent the error from happening again. [They can't] point fingers and blame individuals or be patronizing. Just as in reporting errors, the system, not individuals, must be addressed. It is a culture change that must begin with administration.
"We divulge at my hospital," the physician leader concluded on a familiar refrain, "not to avoid lawsuits--we divulge because it is the right thing to do!"
Even the doubters, for all their practical hesitations, often made plain their allegiance to that ideal.
David Ollier Weber is a freelance health writer and frequent contributor to this journal. He can be reached by e-mail in Mendocino, Calif., at firstname.lastname@example.org
RELATED ARTICLE: case study
Apologies and a Strong Defense at the University of Michigan Health System
In July 2001, the University of Michigan Health System adopted a new policy for handling medical malpractice claims. What started out as an effort to save money turned into a major patient safety and patient communication effort, leaving claims improvement a secondary goal and almost background noise for us now.
Our new policy was based on three principles:
1. We will seek to compensate quickly and fairly when our unreasonable medical care causes patient injuries.
2. We will defend our staff and institution vigorously when our care was reasonable and/or when we did not cause a patient injury.
3. We will seek to learn from our mistakes and our patients' experiences.
Having pledged to behave consistently with our honest assessment of the care at issue, our disclosure to the patient should not vary from any position we take later should there be a claim. We will not apologize insincerely and we will not be defensive dishonestly. It doesn't matter if those positions find their way into evidence later should litigation ensue.
Agreement on the principles was easily obtained--how could anyone argue with those? Then I had to push hard to try our first case only a month later, in August 2001. Because we had settled nearly every case before then, the doctor involved--the chairman of our surgery department--just assumed we were going to settle the case. I had to visit him and explain the bigger picture. He agreed to do what he could, pleased with the support for his care, but not pleased at the prospect of spending two and a half weeks in trial.
We won that case.
In the meantime, I reached out to the plaintiff's bar and courts and began a yearlong effort to educate both groups about our approach.
The plaintiff's bar uniformly applauded the effort--except when our principles caused me to take a tough stand on their cases individually. But relatively quickly we communicated and understood each other.
During the first year, we tried seven cases--five of which were multimillion-dollar exposure. We won all but one, and the one we lost we really won: the lowest settlement demand was $550,000, I offered $200,000 and the verdict was $150,000. Not bad for an institution that had tried one case in four preceding years.
When we added up the lowest settlement demands of all seven cases, subtracted the cost of defending those cases and the verdict, we realized that just by taking a principled approach we had saved $2.2 million for the year.
At the same time, we cut off defense costs and settled cases that needed to be settled quickly, most often reaching a settlement that was better than we had expected just because we saved the plaintiffs time and money by cooling the adversarial nature of the claim and moving with integrity to deal with it.
More significantly, we have tried only three cases since 2002--and not because we suddenly lost our nerve. The plaintiff's bar adjusted to our approach and began to come to us openly and directly. I believe the word is out that if they have a legitimate case, they share all the details with us, including their experts' reports and interviews with the family. I also believe that if they have a marginal or questionable case, they do not bother any more because they know we will fight those aggressively with the best of lawyers and the best of experts.
By spring 2002, we involved risk management in both the investigative stage and in routing lessons to be learned back to the institution. By that fall, the program was linked formally with the quality improvement and peer review processes, and we made closer connections with the work being done by our chief of staff, transplant surgeon Darrell (Skip) Campbell, MD, who is becoming a national figure in patient safety.
Also that year, I persuaded our first staff doctor to meet with a threatening and disgruntled patient and his wife and his lawyer--not to apologize but to explain what happened in a Lasik procedure that was complicated and left the patient with virtually useless vision in one eye.
The meeting was difficult to arrange--the doctor was nervous and thought I was crazy, and the patient was dubious. Things did not go well. The patient's wife became very angry when she realized we were not going to apologize and offer compensation--and it ended abruptly when they walked out and slammed the door.
We held two more meetings--the last occurring only a month before the statute of limitations would bar the action. At that meeting, the doctor offered to do corrective surgery on the patient despite the threat to sue him.
I was astounded to find that once we had gotten over the emotional hurdle of opening the discussions and our ophthalmologist felt he had permission to show his human side, our progress accelerated and he offered to do the operation.
The patient, overwhelmed by our forthrightness, actually told his lawyer in our presence to stop what he was doing to prepare the case and asked the doctor if he would indeed do the surgery. We all walked out with a plan for follow-up care and I closed the case.
That pattern repeated itself several times: doctors greeting the suggestion of meeting patients threatening to sue them with utter disbelief, and then embracing the approach.
Their reactions convinced me that the defensiveness that characterizes most of mainstream medicine today can be changed.
Most people who become doctors do so for all the "right reasons," are inherently good people who find value in helping others and, once permitted to ignore the threat of a claim, will almost always do the right thing.
My own approach evolved after watching those reactions and I became bolder in reassuring our staff that if they would only concentrate on better patient communication and safer patient care, the claims would take care of themselves. Because they now have confidence that we will act in accordance with our analysis of the care in the case and not sell them out for reasons of convenience and fear, the comfort level in disclosure has risen.
It is still a work in progress. We have formed a "SWAT team" in risk management to assist doctors who find themselves in difficult positions, helping them sort out the issues and decide on an honest approach with patients. We do not teach them to apologize insincerely as some institutions do. Instead, we support them to make sure their conclusions and evaluations are sound, and we help them put things in context, help with the disclosure and help with the follow-up plans.
Campbell has taken on peer review courageously and we have been right there in the midst of it. With more honesty, we will continue to drive our claims down and, more importantly, improve patient safety and patient communication.
As our success has become more public, our staff reports more close calls and patient injuries--thereby reducing our future claims and increasing actuarial confidence in our future risk. As actuarial confidence grows, the projected cost of our malpractice insurance program drops, freeing up more money for better things like improving patient safety and access and building new facilities.
Richard C. Boothman is chief risk officer for the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Richard C. Boothman
RELATED ARTICLE: 2006 Patient Trust and Safety Survey Results
Apologizing for Medical Errors
1. Is there a doctor in your community that you would avoid because you think he or she makes medical mistakes?</p> <pre> Yes 77% No
23% </pre> <p>2. Is there a hospital in your community that you would avoid because you think the medical personnel make medical mistakes?</p> <pre> Yes 42% No 58% </pre> <p>3. IN YOUR OPINION, do you think patients would be less likely to sue if medical mistakes were disclosed and apologies issued to the victim or the victim's family?</p> <pre> Yes, less likely to sue. 61% No, I think they'd still sue. 21% Not sure if apologies make a difference. 18% </pre> <p>4. Generally speaking, which of the following statements best describes your health care organization's stance on making apologies for medical errors to reduce lawsuits.</p> <pre> My organization encourages making apologies for medical errors to 55% reduce lawsuits. My organization does NOT encourage making apologies for medical 14% errors. I don't know my organization's stance on making apologies for 21%
medical errors. Not applicable
9% </pre> <p>5. IN YOUR OPINION, do you believe health care organizations should encourage making apologies for medical errors?</p> <pre> Yes 81% No 4% Not sure 16% </pre> <p>6. Please choose the category below that best describes your title or position.</p> <pre> CEO, Administrator, President, Commander, Dean or similar 9% VPMA, COO, CMO, CIO, CQO, Chief of Staff, Vice Commander, Assoc 28% Dean, or similar Medical Director of a Hospital or Group Practice 17% Clinical Department Chair, Chief of Service, Medical Director of 24% Clinical Department, Residency Director, Professor of Medicine or similar ALL Other Positions including Practicing Physician, Consultant and 22% Resident/Fellow </pre> <p>7. What type of organization do you work for?</p> <pre> Hospital 40% Group practice 33% Managed care organization 10% Academic 10% Military/Government
7% </pre> <p>The physician survey was conducted online January 4-10, 2006, with 1,019 members of the American College of Physician Executives. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
1. Are you familiar with studies, articles and news reports about thousands of Americans dying each year as a result of medical errors?</p> <pre> Yes 71% No 28% Not Sure 1% </pre> <p>2. Have you or any member of your family ever been the victim of a medical error or mistake?</p> <pre> Yes 23% No 75% Don't know 2% </pre> <p>3. Is there a doctor in your community that you would avoid because you think he or she makes medical errors?</p> <pre> Yes
20% No 78% Don't know 2% </pre> <p>4. Is there a hospital in your community that you would avoid because you think the medical personnel make medical errors?</p> <pre> Yes 24% No
75% Don't know 1% </pre> <p>5. Have you ever done any research to find out if a doctor or hospital in your community has committed medical errors?</p> <pre> Yes 15% No 85% </pre> <p>6. Suppose you or a family member were the victim of a medical error; how likely would you be to sue?</p> <pre> Highly Likely 36% Likely 38% Unlikely
18% Don't Know 7% Refused 1% </pre> <p>7. Suppose you or a family member were the victim of a medical error and the doctor or hospital that made the mistake tried to hide it; would you be more or less likely to sue?</p> <pre> More Likely 92% Less Likely
2% Would never sue 1% Don't know 4% Refused
1% </pre> <p>8. Suppose you or a family member were the victim of a medical error and the doctor or hospital that made the mistake personally apologized to you; would you be more or less likely to sue?</p> <pre> More Likely 25% Less Likely 57% Would never sue 3% Don't know 15% Refused 1% </pre> <p>9. Which of the following two statements do you think is the most accurate?
Medical science is so advanced that medical errors should be very rare.
Medical science is so complex that medical errors are bound to happen.
Very rare 43% Bound to happen 53% Don't know 4%
The study was conducted for ACPE (American College of Physician Executives) via telephone by ICR, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted January 4th-January 8th, 2006, among a nationally representative sample of 1008 respondents age 18 and older. The margin of error is +/- 3.09% at the 95% confidence level. More information about ICR can be obtained by visiting www.icrsurvey.com.
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|Title Annotation:||Ethical aspects of physician leaders|
|Author:||Weber, David Ollier|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2006|
|Previous Article:||Letters to the editor.|
|Next Article:||Full disclosure and apology--an idea whose time has come.|