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Patients want doctors to speak honestly about medical errors

Medical errors are a great concern, and some studies show that the rate of such incidents may be on the rise. While many mistakes are caught and corrected quickly before harm is done, some patients suffer terrible injuries or even lose their lives from problems following a medical procedure. In some cases, the injury could have been prevented through proper protocol, but in many situations, New York doctors could not have foreseen the complications. However, a new study shows that injured patients have very simple demands following such mistakes.

A very small study focused on interviewing patients at three hospitals across the country and found that most patients only want doctors to be human in the event of a medical error. Whereas a doctor may be tempted to deny any wrongdoing or cover up the accident with silence, patients appreciate more open communication. In fact, the most important things an injured patient or surviving family members want to know are that the doctor understands their points of view and that the hospital is taking steps to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Sometimes a doctor may feel the need to spend a great deal of time explaining the medical aspects of the situation. However, the study showed that, more often, patients want doctors to listen and acknowledge their suffering. Those interviewed agreed that it is not helpful or satisfying when a doctor sends a social worker to speak to them, and they would rather speak directly to the doctor, even if that physician isn't comfortable in the situation.

The study also pointed out that many of those confronting doctors also had legal counsel with them. For New York doctors in this situation, it may not be advisable to speak directly to patients or family members who are accusing them of medical malpractice. For advice on the best way to handle a circumstance that involves a medical error or complication, a doctor or hospital administrator would be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney experienced in medical malpractice defense

Source: whtc.com, "After medical errors, patients want doctors to hear them out", Lisa Rapaport, Oct. 13, 2017

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