JAMA professionalism: disclosure of medical error.
Disclosing medical errors to patients is essential for maintaining a therapeutic relationship and preventing further harm. This commentary describes a case in which a physician inadvertently used nonsterile instruments to perform procedures on two patients and presents options for what the physician might do next. Recommended best practices for error disclosure include being honest about what happened, explicitly stating that an error occurred, and explaining to the patient any relevant specific information that might be helpful in terms of necessary follow-up. The authors suggest that all errors be formally reviewed to prevent future harm and that health care systems should create an environment that facilitates error reporting.