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Cases & Commentaries
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- Web M&M
Thomas H. Gallagher, MD; May 2011
Transferred to a tertiary hospital, a child with severe swelling of the brain is found to have venous sinus thromboses and little chance of survival. Further review revealed that the referring hospital had missed subtle signs of cerebral edema on the initial CT scan days earlier, raising the question of whether to disclose the errors of other facilities or caregivers.
Journal Article > Study
Gallagher TH, Cook AJ, Brenner RJ, et al. Radiology. 2009;253:443-452.
Disclosing errors to patients does not happen consistently, as physicians in patient-care–oriented specialties (such as internal medicine and surgery) frequently "choose their words carefully" and fail to fully disclose errors when they occur. This survey of radiologists who regularly interpret mammograms found that three-quarters regularly discuss mammogram results directly with patients, but only a minority would disclose any information about an error in interpretation without prompting from the patient. Despite patients' clear preference for full disclosure of errors, only 15% of radiologists said they would discuss the specifics of the error and how it occurred. Errors in cancer diagnosis are a frequent cause of malpractice lawsuits, but in this study, having been sued was not associated with likelihood of disclosing an error. The study's lead author, Dr. Thomas Gallagher, was interviewed for AHRQ WebM&M in January 2009.
Journal Article > Commentary
To disclose or not to disclose radiologic errors: should "patient-first" supersede radiologist self-interest?
Berlin L. Radiology. 2013;268:4-7.