Physicians and risk managers have fundamentally different approaches to disclosing medical errors to patients, according to a new study published in the March issue of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
Study examines approaches on error disclosure
In conducting anonymous surveys of nearly 3,000 risk managers and roughly 1,300 physicians, the study found that risk managers, who oversee quality and safety, risk financing, and the management of claims at hospitals, have more favorable attitudes about revealing errors to patients, though they were less amenable toward providing an apology than doctors.
“Risk managers also expressed more favorable attitudes about the mechanisms at their hospitals or healthcare organizations to inform physicians about errors, but, like physicians, reported that there is much room for improvement in systems to report errors,” the study stated.
The study's authors urged closer collaboration between risk managers and physicians in the disclosure process. In addition, hospital policies should clarify who has final authority over the circumstances under which disclosures of medical errors take place.
“Fulfilling patients' expectations for full disclosure of medical errors remains a complicated process. Our data offer additional insight into the complexities of these conversations and reflect the evolving roles of stakeholders beyond the physicians involved in the error,” said the study's lead author David Loren, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Washington's Division of Pediatrics, Seattle.
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