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Report shows many doctors do not disclose errors

Patients in Maryland and elsewhere may be troubled by a new report in Health Affairs that shows that many doctors do not believe that being honest with their patients is necessarily the best policy. The study included a survey of nearly 2,000 doctors across the United States. Of those interviewed for the survey, 34 percent of the doctors stated that they do not believe they should disclose serious doctor errors, including surgical errors, to patients.

Nearly 20 percent said they did not disclose an error last year out of fear. The fear that drives most doctors to withhold important information from patients concerning potentially serious medical errors is medical malpractice lawsuits.

But medical malpractice is not the only thing keeping doctors silent. The same survey also showed that nearly two-fifths of doctors said that they do not believe it is important for them to disclose their financial relationships with drug companies to their patients either.

While the former is certainly more serious than the latter, both raise serious concerns about communication. Patients put their lives in the hands of their doctors and the idea that doctors are choosing to withhold potentially serious information from their patients for fear they might be held responsible for their own mistakes is troubling. This disturbing trend identified in the Health Affairs survey is about more than white lies; it is about patient health.

If someone suspects that they or someone they love has been the victim of a doctor or surgical error, it is important to contact someone that can help identify the best course of action. Medical Malpractice litigation options are available to recover compensation for harm done as a result of doctor error.

Source: ABC News, "Your Doctor May Be Keeping Secrets," April 8, 2012

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