National survey results released; Lucian Leape, MD, urges hospitals to issue apologies

TAMPA, FL (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Two new national polls show widespread support for doctors and hospitals to fully disclose medical errors to patients and issue apologies for medical mistakes. The 2006 Patient Trust and Safety surveys conducted by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE, www.acpe.org) also reveal that 77 percent of the physicians who participated say there is a doctor in their own community that they would avoid because they think the doctor makes medical mistakes.

The surveys, conducted in January, examine various issues involving patients, doctors and the safety of the nation’s health care system. One survey was completed online by 1,019 doctors; another was conducted by phone with 1,000 patients. Results are published in the March/April issue of ACPE’s “The Physician Executive, Journal of Medical Management.”

In a companion article, Harvard University public health expert Lucian Leape, MD, writes that it’s time for hospitals nationwide to support disclosure and apologies. He even urges hospitals to take proactive steps to compensate injured patients without waiting for the patients to sue.

The idea of making apologies for medical mistakes drew strong support from both patients and doctors.

More than 80 percent of the doctors who participated in the survey say health care organizations should apologize, and 61 percent predicted that patients would be less likely to sue over mistakes if apologies were freely given.

The patients agreed: 57 percent said they’d be less likely to sue if the doctor or hospital that made the medical mistake issued an apology.

About 20 states do have laws that allow apologies that can’t be used against a doctor in court. Many doctors complained, however, that lawyers routinely discourage apologies no matter what.

The patient survey also found that patients are well aware of studies that show thousands of Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. Some patients believe mistakes are inevitable: 53 percent agreed with the statement “medical science is so complex that medical errors are bound to happen.”

Another 43 percent, however, agreed with the statement “medical science is so advanced that medical errors should be very rare.”

ACPE is the nation’s largest organization for physician leaders with more than 10,000 members.

More information: http://www.acpe.org

News issued by: American College of Physician Executives (ACPE

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Original Story ID: (1383) :: 2006-03-0306-002

Original Keywords: American College of Physician Executives, ACPE, The Physician Executive, Journal of Medical Management, 2006 Patient Trust and Safety survey, Tampa, Florida, organization for physician leaders, Lucian Leape, MD American College of Physician Executives (ACPE

News Source: American College of Physician Executives (ACPE