Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Doctors don't like to say "oops"

A recent survey found that nearly half of physicians surveyed admitted to not revealing a medical error they were aware of.

They found that 46 percent of physicians surveyed admitted they knew of a serious medical error that had been made but did not tell authorities about it.

"There is a measurable disconnect between what physicians say they think is the right thing to do and what they actually do," said Eric Campbell of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the survey.

...Up to 96 percent of those surveyed said they should report all instances of significant incompetence or medical errors to the hospital clinic or to authorities. The exception was among cardiologists and surgeons, with just about 45 percent agreeing.

There are many potential reasons for these findings - increased vulnerability to malpractice lawsuits, the need to re-establish authority as a medical professional, lack of adequate time and communications with patients - but the impacts are far-reaching. Patients are losing their trust in the medical profession, and this distrust leads them to either not see the doctor for preventative care or early interventions, or to turn to "alternative therapies" that are at best ineffective and at worst harmful. There probably is no correct answer, but open discussion needs to continue on this issue to stem the hemmorhage of trust.


Daniel said...

It's painting with far too broad a brush to label complementary and alternative medicine "at best ineffective and at worst harmful." There is no shortage of highly effective complementary and alternative medicine interventions. M.D. Anderson, for example, has an entire department devoted to studying the effects of CAM on cancer patients, and they have produced some first-rate evidence on the subject.

--Daniel Goldberg

SabrinaW said...

Actually, I was referring to the subset of alternative therapies that are ineffective, rather than using it as a descriptor for all alternative therapies. See an earlier post for my opinion on Alternative Therapies. Thanks for commenting!