Hospitals and doctors are changing policies in regard to communication after a medical mistake. They have traditionally been reticent to disclose to patients or their family members the specifics of how a medical procedure didn’t go as planned for fear of malpractice lawsuits. In recent years, though, many are beginning to consider a change. Instead of the usual “deny-and-defend” approach, they are changing policies to be more open.
There are multiple reasons for this revamped approach. First, patients and their families want to know when there has been an adverse event or outcome. As important, however, studies have shown that doctors suffer from increased anxiety when there are restrictions on what they are permitted to say to patients. Finally, it has also been shown that some patients are more inclined to file lawsuits when they perceive a lack of transparency or honesty from their doctor.
Changing Policies for Medical Mistakes
As a result, many hospitals have instituted policies and procedures for communicating adverse events to patients and family members. Volunteer hospital staff receives annual training, and frequent “booster” courses. The courses included simulations where doctors can practice talking with angry or devastated actors playing patients and family members. A doctor enrolled in the course from the MedStar system in Maryland described that, through the simulations, she “learned about the importance of being honest upfront, expressing empathy and apologizing.”
“Instead of shutting down conversations with patients, we want to respond to them immediately, we want to share everything we can with them,” explained one of the founders of the MedStar program. “Many times when they get their questions answered in an open and honest way, they realize a lawsuit wasn’t really necessary.”
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, please contact Martin Kane Kuper today