Even when physicians are not responsible for a medical error, they have an obligation to be "honest and forthcoming" with information about the mistake, according to a new report by the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, to be presented at the AMA's annual meeting that will begin Saturday.
"Physicians must offer professional and compassionate concern toward patients who have been harmed, regardless of whether the harm is caused by a healthcare error," the report also advises. "An expression of concern need not be an admission of responsibility."
The report, to be considered at the AMA House of Delegates meeting June 14-19 in Chicago, also recommends that physicians "should play a central role in identifying, reducing and preventing healthcare errors."
It says physicians should help set up reporting mechanisms that emphasize education, rather than punishment, of healthcare workers and on changing reporting systems to better identify errors.