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Apology for errors: whose responsibility?

Leape LL. Front Health Serv Manage. 2012;28:3-12.

April 18, 2012
Leape LL. Front Health Serv Manage. 2012;28(3):3-12.

Although victims of adverse events have clearly expressed their preferences for full error disclosure, most physicians remain uncomfortable with disclosing and apologizing for errors. Physicians are not alone in this regard, as a prior survey of risk managers showed that they do not routinely recommend apologizing to patients. In this interview, Dr. Lucian Leape calls for institutions to establish full disclosure, apology, and compensation policies for all patients harmed by adverse events, and cites data showing that these policies can lead to fewer malpractice lawsuits. Dr. Leape emphasizes that hospital leadership must take responsibility for establishing such policies at the institutional level, as well as using such errors as opportunities for system improvement.