Feb 1, 2013

Massachusetts Doctors and Hospitals Still Struggle with Apologies

The Boston Globe Magazine published last Sunday a lengthy article on the role of physician apologies in the medical malpractice landscape. The article:
Medical malpractice: Why is it so hard for doctors to apologize?
Fixing a system built on blame and revenge will require bold ways of analyzing mistakes and a radical embrace of openness.
You really should read the full article, but here is an important outtake:
"The misleading image of the doctor besieged by bogus lawsuits dangerously obscures an important fact: The vast majority of major medical errors never see the light of day. A classic 1991 study found that only about 2 percent of patients harmed by medical negligence filed a claim.... Harvard-affiliated hospitals were the target of only 90 malpractice claims relating to children between 2006 and 2010, a period when doctors racked up millions of patient encounters. The vast majority of the medical care at these hospitals is superb, to be sure, but it strains credibility to think that any major academic center makes a harmful mistake so rarely..."

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