The title of today’s post is not mine, it belongs to Joe and Teresa Graedon from the People’s Pharmacy. The article, which appeared in today’s Roanoke Times, starts with the assumption that doctors disclose to patients errors that are made in their diagnosis and treatment. A foolish assumption for the vast majority of physicians.
The article refers to a recent study in which doctors in Georgia, Massachusetts and Washington were presented with two different scenarios and asked how they would respond. One scenario dealt with the delayed diagnosis of cancer and the second scenario presented a situation of poor communication between two doctors in which each doctor assumed the other doctor was caring for the patient. As a quick aside, these two scenarios make up a large number of medical malpractice cases we have in our office at any given time.
Did the surveyed doctors advise the patients of the medical errors in their care? The vast majority did not. Seventy seven percent (77%) of the doctors presented with the delayed cancer diagnosis error and fifty eight percent (58%) of the doctors presented with the care coordination breakdown stated they would offer the patient no information about the medical error or only vague references to communication problems.
Many people may find these results surprising and shocking. I do not. I estimate that in one out of every three medical malpractice we handle a doctor involved in our client’s care knows a mistake was made, who made the mistake, how the mistake was made, and fails to tell his/her patient.
Don’t patients deserve more?