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Survey Finds More Doctors Are Willing to Conceal Medical Errors

A recent study found that more doctors are willing to consider concealing a medical mistake that hurt a patient, according to the 2016 Medscape Ethics Report.

The report found that 78 percent of physicians surveyed said was “never” okay to cover up a harmful medical error. However, in 2014, 91 percent of physicians agreed with that statement—and in 2010, the number was 95 percent.

In response to the 2016 survey, 7 percent of the doctors who provided answers said it was “acceptable” to hide an error, even if a patient is injured. Another 14 percent said that “it depends” on the situation. Doctors who answered “it depends” often had additional questions, like “How much harm was done?” One doctor put the problem into plain language: “What doctor wants to self-incriminate?”

This increase in doctors agreeing that it’s okay to hide some medical errors is all the more baffling because it comes at a time when hospitals are more likely to report. In response to recent studies revealing that medical errors happen far more frequently than anticipated, hospitals have begun tracking medical mistakes more closely, reporting them, and working with patients to provide compensation rather than going to court.

Hospitals aren’t alone in pushing for additional disclosure. The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics also demands that physicians confess to medical errors. The Code of Medical Ethics states that doctors should “disclose medical errors if they have occurred in the patient’s care, in keeping with ethics guidance.”

A 2015 Medscape study on medical errors discovered that these mistakes are far more common—and more deadly—than previously suspected. A 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer. When a medical error results in a drop below the “standard of care,” medical negligence or malpractice results, and the injured person may need to turn to the legal system for help obtaining compensation and holding medical professionals accountable.

If you’ve been injured by a medical error, contact our office today. Our experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can help you investigate what happened and seek compensation. Call us at 866.567.0135 to schedule a confidential consultation.

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