Many Doctors Don’t Report Medical Errors: New Study | DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Many doctors who say they would admit to a medical error never actually do, according to researchers at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine.

In a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the researchers found that among a sample of 538 physicians, residents and medical students in Midwestern and Eastern hospitals, 97% said they would admit, hypothetically, to a minor medical error, and 93% would admit to a major one.  In reality, only 41% of those respondents actually disclosed the minor errors they made, however.  Only 5% admitted to a major error.  Nineteen percent of the respondents — roughly 100  — confessed to purposely hiding a minor error, and 4% admitted to covering up a major one. Authors say the survey illustrates a gap between physicians’ willingness to divulge errors, and a medical practice environment which frequently creates incentives for dishonesty in error reporting.  They note that the older and more educated a physician was, the more willing he or she was to admit a mistake.  Also, previous exposure to medical malpractice litigation did not appear to make a physician more willing to hide medical errors.

Previously on the D.C. Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • Surgeons who don’t report self-inflicted injuries
  • Overworked interns prone to medical errors
  • After-hours call screening and medical errors
  • The Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act
  • Medical errors in D.C. hospitals

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