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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Patients' and physicians' attitudes regarding the disclosure of medical errors.

Gallagher TH, Waterman AD, Ebers AG, et al. JAMA. 2003;289:1001-7.

Thirteen focus groups, consisting of adult patients and academic and community physicians, were interviewed about medical error disclosure. Transcripts were qualitatively analyzed to determine attitude of patients and physicians. Patients wanted disclosure of all harmful errors, why the errors happened, and how recurrences would be prevented. Physicians agreed with disclosure, but indicated they “choose their words carefully” when telling patients about errors. Patients also desired apologies following errors, while physicians worried that apologies might create legal liability. The physicians were unsure where to seek emotional support following errors.