Talking with patients and families about medical error


Until fairly recently, clinicians were routinely told never to admit to a medical error. But patients and society have come to expect and demand more openness and transparency around adverse events and errors, and the medical profession is slowly changing its approach. Not only is an honest approach "the right thing to do," but it has other benefits as well. First, only by acknowledging and analyzing our errors can we take steps to make sure they don't happen again. Second, clinicians often suffer from the silence that surrounds medical errors, and opportunities to disclose and apologize have turned out to be enormously healing for many clinicians. Third, we have learned that empathic disclosure of errors may actually decrease the risk of malpractice litigation, making it possible for patients to be justly compensated for errors without the need to embark upon the costly process of litigation.

General Notes

Tuesday, April 12, 2016; noon to 1 p.m.; Room D1.602. "Talking with Patients and Families about Medical Error". Robert D. Truog, M.D., M.A., Professor of Medical Ethics, Anesthesiology, & Pediatrics, Director of Clinical Ethics, Harvard Medical School; Executive Director, Institute for Professionalism & Ethical Practice and Senior Associate in Critical Care Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston.

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