According to the Medscape Ethics Report, most physicians surveyed reportedly felt it was never okay to hide a mistake from a patient if the mistake had the potential to do harm. Although it is disturbing that some 21% thought it was okay, at least under some circumstances, to hide mistakes, most seem to be clear on the ethics their profession ascribes to.
If they are telling the truth, that is.
Those who work in the forensic profession believe that medical cover-ups are much more common than the survey would lead one to believe. With the potential consequences of medical malpractice so devastating, one might be surprised to find any completely honest physicians at all.
It’s not that doctors are any more dishonest than anyone else. They are under a great amount of pressure to ensure that everything happened the way it should have, or at least looks that way on paper.
It is a bit disturbing that the trend seems to be toward more acceptance of dishonesty. The percentage of doctors who said it was never okay to cover up a mistake was 91% two years ago and nearly 95% in 2010.
The trend is going the opposite way in hospitals where we are seeing more and more of them turning to policies of voluntarily reporting medical errors to patients, making an apology and offering some compensation. People don’t sue their friends, and if the hospital can behave more like one, there will be fewer lawsuits and hopefully lower costs all around by keeping the cases out of court.
Medical malpractice is big business
Experts are needed if the lonely patient wants to take on a large HMO. Errors can be as black and white as operating on the wrong patient or as fuzzy as too little anesthesia. Surgeons are held to high standards, but all are human and perfection is not possible.
Some states have passed laws to make it easier for doctors to settle out of court with injured patients. Some medical schools are teaching their students how to share the bad news of a medical mistake with a patient through role-playing games. Quite a change from the old standard of always writing things down as though they happened the way they should have. Checking medical malpractice lawyer near me is always helpful!
Always tell the patient the truth
The American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics is very clear. It demands that doctors “disclose medical errors if they have occurred in the patient’s care.”
Does it make a difference if the dishonesty is over something that does not harm the patient, or even helps? Almost half of the doctors surveyed admitted they might prescribe a placebo for a patient who did not need treatment but demanded it anyway. There is a lot of pressure to keep patients happy and a sugar pill will have no unforeseen adverse effects.
What doctor wouldn’t want to see his name at the top of the list of favorite physicians?