…many decisions about discussing errors with patients involve situations in which other clinicians were primarily responsible for the error.”
Jul 18, 2014 | 1316 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Have you ever wondered what your physician should say to you if a medical error by another physician is identified?

A recent New England Journal of Medicine article http://www.nejm.org *focused on this question.

“Although a consensus has been reached regarding the ethical duty to communicate openly with patients who have been harmed by medical errors physicians struggle to fulfill this responsibility…..”

“You are a young neurologist practicing in a small hospital. You admit a 55-year-old woman with hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus who had an embolic stroke at home. On reviewing the patient's medical record, you notice that she appears to have been in atrial fibrillation during two electrocardiographic (ECG) tests during visits to the office of her primary care physician (PCP) for palpitations. Her PCP, an internist who provides many of your referrals, read both ECGs as normal and attributed her palpitations to “probable mitral-valve prolapse and anxiety.” The patient is currently in normal sinus rhythm. You show the internist the ECGs and express concern that they indicate atrial fibrillation. He politely disagrees and says you are confused by noise from his old ECG machine. However, when you ask two cardiologists to look at the ECGs, both immediately say “A-fib.” The internist requests that you transfer the patient to his service.” *to read the full NEJM article “Talking with Patients about Other Clinicians' Errors” by Thomas H. Gallagher, highlight then click on open hyperlink http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb1303119

Note: This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.

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