Among 210 hospitals surveyed by the Premier hospital alliance's Safety Institute, 75% reported that they have formal, board-approved policies to disclose unexpected medical errors to patients, while 13% said they are under development and 12% said no such policies are in place.
Less then half -- 37% -- said errors causing serious or short-term harm are always disclosed, 57% said frequently and 6% said sometimes.
When harm is disclosed, 99% of the hospitals said it is explained, 90% said an apology is extended, and 50% promise to share investigation results.
The vast majority -- 72% -- said malpractice fears are the main barriers to disclosure. Only 15% of the surveyed hospitals said cost concerns prevent them from discussing errors with patients.
In general, the survey revealed some encouraging trends in medical-error disclosure practices, indicating doctors and hospitals are becoming more receptive to revealing mistakes and discussing them with patients, Premier said.