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Hospitals may not disclose adverse events to patients-researchers say

Posted by Frank Spector | Nov 10, 2009 | 0 Comments

MedPage Today (11/9, Gever) reported, “When hospital patients suffer adverse effects from treatments, they seldom get explanations from medical personnel, even though the disclosure may improve patients' ratings of care,” according to a study appearing Nov. 9 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The survey of 2,582 patients showed that “more than 60 percent of the time there was no explanation for adverse events,” even though “patients who were told about adverse events were twice as likely as others to rate the quality of care highly.” But, those who were “told about preventable events, those that cause discomfort, and those that still affected patients at the time of the survey were less likely to rate their care highly.”

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Robert Wachter, of the University of California-San Francisco, noted that “hospitals may have become more open about medical errors in the six years since the survey was done,” the Boston Globe (11/9, Cooney) “White Coat Notes” blog reported. Dr. Wachter added that “disclosure…if done well, can lead to higher levels of patient trust, increased perceptions of quality, and perhaps even lower malpractice risk.”

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