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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Communicating with patients about medical errors: a review of the literature.

Mazor KM, Simon SR, Gurwitz JH. Archives of internal medicine. 2004;164:1690-7.

While professional guidelines, recommendations from credentialing and patient safety organizations, and experts on medical errors advocate for disclosure of medical errors, this study conducted a review to understand what practices are recommended in the literature. The authors found empirical support that the act of disclosure to patients doesn't consistently occur, that patients and the general public favor disclosure, and that physicians do in fact support the practice. However, little practical guidance exists as to the nuts and bolts of who, what, when, and how to disclose, which the authors point out must become a focus of future efforts. Another related past study discussed patients' and physicians' attitudes regarding the disclosure of medical errors.