A large number of physicians believe that the media coverage of a botched transplant operation last winter could discourage hospitals from reporting future medical errors, according to a new survey.
In an online poll by Medscape, the WebMD Corp. repository of medical information for healthcare professionals, 42% of physicians say the widespread coverage of the mismatched heart-lung transplant at Duke University Medical Center will make hospitals less likely to report errors.
Only 18% of the 464 physicians who took the "instant" poll on the Medscape Web site between June 22 and June 30 indicate that the episode would cause hospitals to be more forthcoming with error reporting; 39% say the media coverage would have no effect.
The physicians' sentiments are in line with the general survey population of 1,347 respondents. About 44% of all survey participants say coverage of the Duke debacle would chill hospital error reporting, compared to 14% who believe the opposite will happen.
The national media spotlight focused on Duke University in Durham, N.C., after a surgical team admitted that it did not match the blood type of transplant patient Jesica Santillan to the blood type of the organ donor before a Feb. 7 operation. Despite a second heart-lung transplant to correct the initial mistake, the 17-year-old Mexican national died at Duke Medical Center 15 days later.