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Article
Disclosure of medical errors: what factors influence how patients respond
Open Access Articles
  • Kathleen M. Mazor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • George W. Reed, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Robert A. Yood, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Melissa A. Fischer, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Joann L. Baril, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Jerry H. Gurwitz, University of Massachusetts Medical School
UMMS Affiliation
Meyers Primary Care Institute
Date
7-1-2006
Document Type
Article
Subjects
*Attitude to Health; Health Maintenance Organizations; Humans; Malpractice; Massachusetts; *Medical Errors; *Patient Satisfaction; *Physician-Patient Relations; *Truth Disclosure; Video Recording
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Disclosure of medical errors is encouraged, but research on how patients respond to specific practices is limited.

OBJECTIVE: This study sought to determine whether full disclosure, an existing positive physician-patient relationship, an offer to waive associated costs, and the severity of the clinical outcome influenced patients' responses to medical errors.

PARTICIPANTS: Four hundred and seven health plan members participated in a randomized experiment in which they viewed video depictions of medical error and disclosure.

DESIGN: Subjects were randomly assigned to experimental condition. Conditions varied in type of medication error, level of disclosure, reference to a prior positive physician-patient relationship, an offer to waive costs, and clinical outcome.

MEASURES: Self-reported likelihood of changing physicians and of seeking legal advice; satisfaction, trust, and emotional response.

RESULTS: Nondisclosure increased the likelihood of changing physicians, and reduced satisfaction and trust in both error conditions. Nondisclosure increased the likelihood of seeking legal advice and was associated with a more negative emotional response in the missed allergy error condition, but did not have a statistically significant impact on seeking legal advice or emotional response in the monitoring error condition. Neither the existence of a positive relationship nor an offer to waive costs had a statistically significant impact.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that full disclosure is likely to have a positive effect or no effect on how patients respond to medical errors. The clinical outcome also influences patients' responses. The impact of an existing positive physician-patient relationship, or of waiving costs associated with the error remains uncertain.

Rights and Permissions
Citation: J Gen Intern Med. 2006 Jul;21(7):704-10. Link to article on publisher's site
DOI of Published Version
10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00465.x
Related Resources
Link to Article in PubMed
PubMed ID
16808770
Citation Information
Kathleen M. Mazor, George W. Reed, Robert A. Yood, Melissa A. Fischer, et al.. "Disclosure of medical errors: what factors influence how patients respond" Vol. 21 Iss. 7 (2006) ISSN: 1525-1497 (Electronic)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/melissa_fischer/12/