Medical Error Disclosure: A Point of View

Jawahar (Jay) Kalra*

Medical Error Disclosure: A Point of View.

In any health care process, adverse events resulting from errors are inevitable. A number of studies have estimated the rate of adverse events, in hospital patients, varied from 3.7% to 16.6%.

Disclosure of an adverse event is an important element in managing the consequences of a medical and clinical error.

Although, attempts have been made to minimize adverse events and medical errors, a dichotomy has developed between medical errors occurring and the disclosure of these errors by medical professionals.

In the absence of policies directing appropriate disclosure of a medical error, substantial
scope exists for breaching the patient’s trust if errors during the process of care are not disclosed.

Failure to inform the patient of adverse events caused by a medical error compromises the autonomy of the patient, as they are unable to properly consider and consent to proposed medical decisions that may be in their best interests.

Effective communication between health care providers, patients and their families throughout the disclosure process is integral in sustaining and developing the physician patient relationship.

The designing of an
error disclosure policy requires integration of various aspects including bioethics, physicianpatient communication, quality of care, and team-based care delivery

We suggest the implementation of a uniform policy centered on addressing errors in a non-punitive manner and respecting the patient’s right to an honest disclosure be a standard of care.

A prime role exists for the accrediting and regulatory authorities to initiate policy changes and appropriate reforms in the area. Not only should disclosing medical error be a routine part of medical
care in order to enhance quality improvement, but it would also serve to protect the health and autonomy of patients.

Pathol Lab Med Open J. 2016; 1(1): e1-e3. doi: 10.17140/PLMOJ-1-e001