Public preferences and attitudes towards the disclosure of medical errors: a survey in Iran
Medical error, Disclosure, Consumer preferences
Awareness of the occurrence of medical errors is the right of patients and duty of the health service providers. This study was conducted to evaluate to what extent people want to know the occurrence of an error in their medical care, what they expect to be disclosed about medical error, and what are the influential factors in filing a lawsuit against physicians in disclosed medical errors from their point of view.
In this cross-sectional survey, 1062 people residing in the city of Qom, Iran, were telephone interviewed using the random digit dialing method. The questionnaire used consisted of 4 demographic questions and 2 scenarios of major and minor medical error; the participants were asked if the physician should disclose the error in each scenario. The questionnaire also consisted of 16 questions about other issues related to error disclosure. Data were analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistics in SPSS software.
About 99.1% of the study population believed that errors had to be disclosed to patients. They all wished to know that measures would be taken to prevent further errors. Moreover, 93.1% of the participants expected an explanation on the incident. As for the factors that decreased the likelihood of taking legal action against the physician from the viewpoint of the study population, treatment of the complications (96.1%) and honesty of the physician (95.8%) had the highest frequency.
Based on the considerable preference of patients for error disclosure, it is recommended that physicians disclose all minor and major errors sympathetically and with transparency, honesty, and efforts to prevent future errors.
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