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Study says doctors should tell patients about mistakes

Doctors sometimes don't want to tell patients about mistakes that have been made. They are afraid that telling the patient will spark a lawsuit, so they may keep quiet -- even if that's not the most ethical thing to do -- to try to avoid the court case.

However, one study found that exactly the opposite was true. When doctors at a hospital were instructed to tell patients about errors, the amount of lawsuits actually dropped.

This indicates that some patients may be more likely to sue if they find mistakes on their own and feel like the doctor hid the truth from them, whereas they may accept an apology and move forward without a lawsuit if the doctors tell them what has happened.

In the cases in which disputes still arose, things were resolved faster in the cases in which the doctors told the patients what had happened. This is to be expected, as both sides could start working toward that resolution more quickly.

So, how large was the drop? This was just a single study, but the rate fell by around 36 percent. Before doctors started the new program, there were around seven cases for every 100,000 patients. After they started it, there were just over 4.5 cases for every 100,000 patients.

Even though this study showed doctors what they should do, both ethically and realistically, it's still true that many doctors may not be inclined to tell you about a mistake in Illinois. If this happens, your condition could get worse, and you need to know what to do to seek proper compensation.

Source: Health Day, "When Doctors Admit Mistakes, Fewer Malpractice Suits Result, Study Says," Jenifer Goodwin, accessed May 24, 2016

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