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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Disclosure of medical error to parents and paediatric patients: assessment of parents' attitudes and influencing factors.

Matlow AG, Moody L, Laxer R, et al. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2009.

Several studies have shown that patients clearly prefer full disclosure of medical errors and near misses. Despite this preference, physicians continue to "choose their words carefully" when discussing errors, and often fail to explicitly acknowledge errors or offer an apology. This survey of parents of children seen in inpatient and ambulatory settings confirmed prior studies in finding that parents desire full disclosure of errors and near misses affecting their children, and most parents also wanted their children informed. Interestingly, parents born in Asia had a lower threshold for disclosing errors to their children, implying that cultural factors may influence views on error disclosure. An AHRQ WebM&M commentary discusses an error that was disclosed to a parent and the consequences that followed.