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Discussing medical errors: A call for more open conversation

With medical negligence and errors causing harm to patients every year, many hospitals are starting to look at how they approach medical errors and are adjusting how they handle them. Instead of denying that accidents or errors took place, more are opting for open policies where it's okay to talk about what happened.

If you've suffered an injury and are considering filing a medical malpractice claim, this new way of discussing errors could help you better understand what happened. That information could be vital for winning your malpractice case.

Traditionally, hospitals are reluctant to discuss medical errors or how a procedure didn't go as planned because of the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits. Now, that's changing, helping doctors and other health care providers speak to families about what happened and work toward changing things that cause errors. Some studies have shown that when hospitals or doctors are seen as not being completely forthcoming, patients or their families are actually more likely to sue.

One of the first hospital groups to set up an approach for talking about medical errors was MedStar Health in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. It has a "Go Team" that completes training on how to approach families about medical errors and to help physicians confront such errors. The Go Team is on call at all times, giving guidance on demand. For physicians, there is another service identified as "Care for the Caregiver," which helps them work through the psychological impact of errors and the effect on patients.

While not all hospitals employ this approach, those that do make it easier to talk about problems that take place, so they can fix the reason behind errors before another patient gets hurt.

Source: Healthcare IT News, "Doctors and hospitals prepare for challenging talks surrounding medical errors," Aug. 23, 2016

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