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The Importance of Doctors Disclosing Their Mistakes

A doctor recently wrote a post for the Huffington Post explaining why she encourages other physicians to reveal medical mistakes when they occur. Unfortunately, in our area there remain few instances of healthcare professionals who reveal errors when they occur, because of their claimed fear of facing an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit.

However, as the article explains, when compared against virtually all other professions, it remains strange that doctors would not commit to honesty in all their interactions with patients. If a restaurant lets some dangerous substance slip into your food, you would obviously want to know it. If your mechanic accidentally broke something on your car, you’d hope that you would find out. Obviously the same is true for the work your medical professional does on your own body.

But not only is sharing the truth about medical mistakes the “right” thing to do. It is also the effective thing financially. A new study published by the American Medical Association itself explained the monetary effect of disclosing medical errors. The findings? Hospitals that launched a disclosure program saw their annual lawsuits drop by more than 50% and the average costs of the lawsuits that they did face were also cut virtually in half.

There simply remains no good reason why doctors should be secretive about their work or attempt to hide potential problems from patients. With open lines of communications doctors are capable of proving better care. As the study’s author shared, “We do know disclosure of medical errors has been increasingly accepted and expected by caregivers…almost all agree that disclosure is the right thing to do.”

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti know that openness and honesty between doctor and patient must run both ways. Patient lives are saved, money is saved, and ethical norms are met when medical professionals explain when mistakes have occurred.

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