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Perspectives on Safety > Perspective
with commentary by Allen Kachalia, MD, JD, Patient Disclosure and Apology, January 2009
Disclosure of medical error is inextricably linked to today's patient safety efforts. Health care experts advocate that greater disclosure is necessary to achieve complete transparency and ameliorate barriers to error reporting.(1,2) Of course, the ethical obligations triggered by the occurrence of a medical error are not to be overlooked. Principles of fiduciary duty, patient autonomy, and equity all strongly support the ethical and moral mandate for physicians to disclose harmful errors to patients.(3) These principles weigh in favor of disclosure even if it is contrary to the physician's interests (e.g., malpractice risk or reputation). As a result, the issue of disclosure garners tremendous attention in today's medical literature.