This news article reports on systemic weaknesses that enabled a surgeon with poor skills to continue to perform procedures after numerous surgical errors that resulted in patient harm. A past PSNet perspective explored the risk of recurring medicolegal events among providers who have received unsolicited patient complaints, faced disciplinary actions by medical boards, or accumulated malpractice claims.
Poor communication regarding medical errors can contribute to patient and family frustration and fear. Reporting on a case involving disclosure of a wrong-site surgery, this news article describes a resolution program to help patients cope after a preventable error. The program includes apology, disclosure, and explanation of what occurred as well as financial compensation.
Waterman AD, Gallagher TH, Garbutt J, et al. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21:367-70.
This AHRQ–funded study used more than 2000 telephone interviews with recently discharged patients to demonstrate that patients who are most comfortable with error prevention were more likely to take specific action compared to those who are less comfortable. The authors report that although the majority of patients expressed comfort in asking questions about medications and general medical questions, far fewer actively engaged in marking their incision site or asking about handwashing. A past study discussed how to improve patients' perceptions of safety in hospitals, including educational interventions that might empower patients to take greater preventive action, as outlined in this study.
Bosk CL.Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press; 2003. ISBN: 9780226066783.
In this seminal study, Bosk, a medical sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, spent a year observing the surgical residents and faculty at an unnamed hospital, in the process exploring the balance between autonomy and oversight in medical training, how physicians deal with their errors, and the nature of accountability in the medical profession. This edition, published more than two decades after Forgive and Remember was first published, includes a new prologue, epilogue, and list of appendices. The book is informative for both lay readers and clinicians.
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