Medical Errors-to Disclose or Not to Disclose

In the past, it was common practice for medical practitioners not to disclose medical errors to their patients for fear of reprisal or medical malpractice lawsuits. However, according to some industry experts the tide is turning in favor of full disclosure and transparency. This evolution has come about in part because doctors are recognizing that the admission of error does not necessarily lead to a lawsuit. Furthermore, medical errors are now understood in terms of systemic failures rather than isolated incidents. In 2006, a group representing hospitals affiliated with Harvard established an error disclosure policy that includes 1) the medical provider taking responsibility for the error, 2) the medical provider apologizing for the mistake, and 3) discussing preventative measures to avoid such mistakes in the future.