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Pediatricians admit struggles with disclosing errors

October 10, 2008 by  

Doctors would not always admit errorsWhen a child’s health is at stake, parents may expect complete candor from doctors and pediatricians – but in reality, is this always the case?

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reveals that children’s doctors differ in their approach to disclosing a medical error.

Researchers led by Dr. David J. Loren of the University of Washington School of Medicine polled more than 200 pediatricians about their responses to scenarios in which a child was hospitalized due to an error on their part.

In one of the examples, parents were more likely to be aware of the mistake, while in the other it was more easily concealed.

The survey results revealed a tendency to be more likely to acknowledge an error when it would already be obvious to the family involved.

"This study demonstrated marked variation in when and how pediatricians might disclose medical errors and found that they may be less likely to disclose an error that was less apparent to the family," the researchers wrote.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, medication errors result in around 770,000 injuries and deaths each year in the U.S.
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