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Physicians previously reluctant to discuss errors

As South Carolina residents may know, it may be difficult to obtain full disclosure of a medical error made by a health care provider. While only a small percentage of doctors admit to nondisclosure of medical errors, partial disclosure is more common than full disclosure. Attitudes toward disclosure of these mistakes have been changing among physicians and organizations and has led to some states mandating disclosure. Other states have barred information in a physician's disclosure from being used against them in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Traditionally, hospitals have limited the information provided to a patient or family and have denied fault in errors in a variety of medical procedures, treatments and adverse outcomes. However, some hospitals now attempt to resolve medical issues proactively. The model used by the University of Michigan includes full disclosure, investigation, apology, financial compensation and procedures set in place to avoid a recurrence of the medical error and demonstrates that this approach results in lower costs and fewer medical malpractice suits.

Doctors indicate that medical error must be approached carefully and may be complicated to address. This is considered one of the reasons physicians are reluctant to be forthcoming since they have not been specifically trained on ways to deal with such situations. It has been suggested that formal training in explanation of medical errors by a physician may be beneficial for both the physician and patient.

If an individual has received medical treatment that is considered outside the standard of care, he or she may wish to consult with an attorney concerning financial loss due to medical bills and lost wages. An attorney may review medical records, physician explanation and obtain expert opinion to determine if negligence in fact occurred. The attorney may help the client file a malpractice suit to recover damages or structure a settlement outside of court.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "Error Disclosure", November 01, 2014

Philpot Law Firm, PA
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Greenville, SC 29601

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Phone: 864-990-0226
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