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Internal reporting of doctor errors not easy for several reasons

Earlier this week on our blog, we discussed how it can be difficult for physicians to report mistakes made by their colleagues. This can be dangerous on multiple levels. Patients might not receive the care they deserve, and might have the physician mistake unattended; doctors who see a mistake and neglect to report it could feel emotionally conflicted, and even distracted, by their inaction.

According to one doctor who has devoted a lot of time to the issue, the best course for a doctor who has realized that an error has occurred is to confront the doctor who is responsible. Many physicians will not want to accept responsibility for making such an error, so the doctor doing the confronting runs the risk of alienating his or her colleague. However, for the good of the patient and the integrity of the hospital, it is the best choice.

According to some doctors, the culture around error reporting has changed over the last several years. Many hospitals do realize that they have ethical responsibilities to be transparent with their patients. This means not only owning up to an error that has been made, but calling out colleagues if errors they have made would otherwise go undetected and unreported.

Despite this more open culture of patient disclosure, there will still be cases when righting a wrong that occurred from doctor errors will require legal intervention. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help advise people in this situation to determine what their course of action should be.

Source: WBUR's Common Health, "Delicate Doctoring Moments: A Medical Error By Another Physician," Rachel Zimmerman, Nov. 1, 2013

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