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Doctor errors often not disclosed to patients

One of the simplest lessons many Pottsville residents are taught from the time they are young is to learn from their mistakes. In order to be responsible, individuals have to own up to their mistakes and try not to repeat those same mistakes over and over.

Unfortunately, it can often seem as though this most basic lesson is lost on some within the medical profession. Doctors often commit a tragic medical mistake when treating a patient, which is made worse by the fact that this same mistake can be repeated over and over when treating other patients.

It is not surprising that, according to a new study, doctors do not like to talk about these mistakes. A new report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, states that about 29 percent of Medicare patients who are treated in rehabilitation hospitals experience some type of medical harm, whether it be infections from contaminated equipment or some other error.

In Pennsylvania, there were more than 7,700 reports that a patient had been harmed last year. More than 250 patients died under circumstances where a medical professional may have been responsible for the death.

While details of medical errors are typically kept confidential, doctors are supposed to disclose these errors to patients. But another study published in JAMA Surgery found that it is difficult for doctors to disclose these errors. While many surgeons in the study disclosed an adverse event, only 55 percent apologized or discussed whether the incident could have been prevented.

When a patient has been injured by medical professional negligence, such as a preventable error that was caused by the doctor's breach of their duty of care, the injured patient can file a claim for medical malpractice. By pursuing this claim, patients can not only obtain relief for themselves, but they can help prevent future errors from happening to other patients.

Source: New Pittsburgh Courier, "Study: Disclosing medical errors to patients is a tough thing for doctors," Christopher Reed, July 26, 2016

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