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Cohen E.
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.
During a hernia repair, surgeons decide to remove a patient's hydrocele, spermatic cord, and left testicle—without realizing that his right testicle had been removed previously.