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Are doctors becoming more willing to hide harmful medical errors?

There are many things that can make it difficult to determine whether a negative medical event a patient experienced was due to medical negligence. One is the complicated nature of medical conditions and medical procedures. This can make it difficult to pin down what exactly happened and what caused what when an unexpected negative event occurred when a person was getting medical care.

Another is that medical professionals may sometimes take steps to conceal what actually happened in a medical care situation that went south. How common is it for doctors to be willing to be dishonest on this front? A recent report indicates it might be more common than one might think.

The report contained findings from a recent survey of doctors on issues related to ethics. Among the things doctors were asked about in the survey were their views on whether it was alright to hide or cover up a medical error that caused a patient harm. Of the surveyed doctors:

  • 78 percent said it was never alright to engage in such concealing.
  • 7 percent said such concealing was acceptable.
  • 14 percent said it depends on the situation.

So, while a majority of the surveyed doctors outright dismissed hiding harmful errors as unacceptable, over one-fifth of the physicians polled expressed at least a possible openness to such concealing.

Another thing some might find worrisome about these survey findings is that the portion of doctors who indicated that they felt hiding harmful mistakes was never okay was down as compared to similar surveys from past years. For example, the percentage of doctors who expressed such feelings was above 90 percent in the not-too-distant past: 91 percent in a survey from 2014 and nearly 95 percent in a survey from 2010.

Why do you think doctors might be becoming more willing to conceal medical mistakes that did harm to patients?

As this illustrates, there can be many roadblocks a person who was the victim of a negative medical event could face in their efforts to figure out what actually was responsible for the harm they have suffered and whether they have compensation rights in connection to the harm. Skilled medical malpractice attorneys can assist such individuals in their attempts to overcome these roadblocks.

Source: WebMD, "More Doctors Willing to Hide Mistakes, Survey Says," Robert Lowes, Dec. 2, 2016

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