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Allan Krumholz, MD; December 2004
At a new patient visit, a man with seizure disorder requests a 'handicapped' license plate due to difficulty walking long distances. To his surprise, the physician explains that he needs to report his seizures to the DMV.
Perspectives on Safety > Interview
New Insights Into Apology and Disclosure Programs, April 2019
Dr. Schulz Moore is the Director of Learning and Teaching at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Law and an Associate with the University of New South Wales School of Public Health and Community Medicine. Her research in health law draws from her unique training in public health, law, and health social sciences. We spoke with her about disclosure and apology in health care as well as the intersection between health and legal systems in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
Journal Article > Commentary
Flores G. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:229-231.
The author discusses how language barriers can compromise a patient's health care and highlights the need for reliable interpreters to communicate medical information.
Journal Article > Review
McDonnell WM, Guenther E. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:811-815.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that patients clearly want errors to be fully disclosed, and desire that clinicians apologize for the errors. However, clinicians frequently cite fear of malpractice lawsuits as a reason to avoid apologizing for an error. This study reviewed statutes from all 50 states to determine the current legal climate regarding physician apologies. Thirty-six states have enacted apology laws. Of these, 28 states prohibit "expressions of sympathy" from being used as evidence in a malpractice suit, but "admissions of fault" (i.e., full disclosure of an error) are protected in only 8 states. Most of these laws were enacted within the past 3 years, and thus the authors were unable to determine their effect on patient–physician communication of errors. A prior study used economic modeling to forecast that full disclosure of errors, with or without legal protection, would likely lead to an overall increase in malpractice lawsuits.