Thursday, November 10, 2005

Communicating With Patients About Medical Errors: A Review of the Literature.

Communicating With Patients About Medical Errors: A Review of the Literature.
Mazor KM, Simon SR, Gurwitz JH:
Arch Intern Med; 2004; 164: 1690-1697

Objective: To review the literature on the disclosure of medical errors. Design/Methods: The authors searched 4 electronic databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and Social Sciences Citations Index. The references of these articles were also reviewed to identify additional articles. Of the 825 articles reviewed, 17 reported original empirical data on the disclosure of medical errors to patients and their families. The definition of medical error varied among the different studies. Results: Results of the literature search indicated that patients and the public both support disclosure. However, although physicians also support disclosure, they often do not disclose. Results of studies using self-reporting by physicians suggest that disclosure often does not occur. Reports of patients and their families also suggest low rate of disclosure. The authors found insufficient evidence to support conclusions about the disclosure process as well as its consequences. Conclusions: Research on the area of medical disclosures to patients and their families is limited. Most studies have focused on the decision stage of disclosure rather than the disclosure process, the consequences of disclosure, or the relationship between the two. More research is needed "to understand how disclosures are made, to provide guidance to physicians on the process, and to help all involved anticipate the consequences of the disclosure." (Reviewer–Albert W. Wu, MD, MPH).

© 2005, Oakstone Medical Publishing

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