Medical Malpractice Attorneys Take Issue With Physician Opinions on Honesty and Disclosure

Harvard Medical School, along with a number of other Massachusetts health institutions, executed a survey among doctors and medical professionals regarding their honesty with patients. The study and it’s findings were published in the medical journal Health Affairs. Unfortunately, medical malpractice attorneys aren’t shocked by some of the survey’s results.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Concerned with Survey Results

philadelphia and new jersey medical malpractice attorneys, new jersey lawyers, medical malpractice lawyers, philadelphia medical malpracticeThe team of med students and medical professionals aimed to discover how honest doctors believe they should be, and in turn actually are, with their patients. The survey was carried out in 2009 and involved almost 1,900 practicing doctors from the United States.

While the majority of doctors and physicians believe that patients should always be told all of the truth, there was a substantial minority of practicing doctors that do not agree that patients need always know the whole truth about their treatment. This opinion and possible basis of practice is a direct violation of The Charter on Medical Professionalism, which insists on openness and honesty. The Charter was penned in 1999 by medical entities in both the US and Europe. It is argued by some that the charter, while not outwardly proclaiming to do so, aims to replace the Hippocratic Oath as a medical guideline for professionalism and patient safety. It is backed by over 100 professional organizations world wide, including the US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

The survey inquired as to how closely its participants followed the principles set forth in the Charter when it came to conveying information to patients. Authors of the Health Affairs article reported the following:

  • The vast majority of doctors believe they should be 100% honest with their patients regarding the pros and cons of certain medical treatments. That same majority also agrees that they should never reveal confidential patient information to unauthorized persons.
  • About one third of the doctors surveyed don’t believe it’s necessary to disclose serious medical errors to patients.
  • Almost one fifth of the doctors surveyed believe that lying to patients in certain situations is justified.
  • Forty percent of surveyed doctors believe it is unnecessary to habitually disclose information about their financial relationships with pharmaceutical or medical device companies.
  • About 1 out of every 10 doctors surveyed admitted to lying to at least one patient in the 12 months prior.

The article’s authors suggest that the survey results could mean a large gap between what patients know as true and what actually is. They wrote:

“(our findings raise concerns) about whether patient-centered care is broadly possible without more widespread physician endorsement of the core communication principles of openness and honesty with patients.”

Philadelphia and New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Doctors take an oath to always act in the best interest of their patients; it is the most crucial part of their job. If you believe that you’ve been deceived by your physician, or that physician acted negligently in your treatment, contact the Philadelphia and New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys of Messa & Associates, P.C. Our attorneys are experienced and skilled in earning substantial compensation for injuries sustained due to medical errors. Call, toll-free, at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry for a free case evaluation.

If you would like to speak with someone immediately, simply click the link to your right that says “CHAT LIVE!” A representative will be able to help right now.

Medical Malpractice and Sleep Deprivation; Should Surgeons Disclose to Patients When They Haven’t Slept?

As a New Jersey and Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney, I found a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine quite interesting. It posed a question regarding surgeons and their often wearisome schedules; Should a surgeon who has been deprived sleep in the past 24 hours be obligated to do disclose such to his/her patient?

Surgeons and Surgery Schedules

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers disclosure lack sleepSleep deprivation can affect a surgeon or physician’s clinical and physical performances as severely as alcohol intoxication, and therefore increase risk of medical malpractice. But for a hospital, the task of ensuring that it’s surgeons are not suffering from fatigue has proven quite a challenge. Hospitals are in need of 24/7 coverage of clinical procedures, and must provide continuous care. Hospital trainees currently have work regulations set forth by the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education that restrict them to a maximum of 16 consecutive working hours followed by a minimum of 8 hours off-duty. These types of regulations do not currently exist for fully trained physicians, who work multiple on-call and overnight shifts a week, strategically placing elective surgical procedures in between.

Furthermore, continuous sleep deprivation can lead to more serious problems, creating a larger concern regarding it’s effect on patients. Surveys show that patients would be very concerned if they were told that their physicians had gone 24 hours without sleep, and 80% of those surveyed said they would request new providers. Considering how important this is to so many patients, it seems informed consent should be demanded in these situations.

The Sleep Research Society has proposed legislation that would require medical providers who have been awake for 22 of the last 24 hours to:

“inform their patients of the extent and potential safety impact of their sleep deprivation and to obtain consent from such patients prior to providing clinical care or performing any medical or surgical procedures.”

Patients should be informed of the impairments sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause, as well as the increased risk of complications associated with proceeding. Patients should then be given the opportunity to proceed, re-schedule, or proceed with a different physician. Until hospitals can staff their facilities accordingly, patients will have to play a more active role in their medical care in order to protect themselves from medical malpractice and negligence.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in New Jersey and Philadelphia

If you or a loved one have suffered at the hands of a negligent medical provider, please contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation. You may also call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia. The medical malpractice lawyers at the Mininno Law Office are experienced and skilled in earning victims their full and fair compensation.

Disclosure of Large Medical Malpractice Events Uncommon

An article published in the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine included the results of research done, that claimed that disclosure of medical malpractice that affects individual patients is becoming more common among health care organizations.
However, the disclosure of Large Scale Adverse Events, or LSAEs, does not happen as often. LSAEs can include incompletely sterilized surgical tools, poor lab quality control, or equipment malfunctions.

new jersey philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys large scale disclosure events AHRQ LSAE mininnoThe Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or the AHRQ, funded the research into the disclosure practices of hospitals and private practices. AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. said of the results:

It’s clear that health care organizations face a dilemma regarding disclosure of large-scale adverse events whether these events lead to patient harm or not. It’s not always clear how to do that in a way that minimizes risk to the patient and the organization, but this research can help.

Questions arise when considering the disclosure of medical malpractice on this large scale. Is it ethical to disclose the event in a case where patients were unlikely to be physically harmed, but may be psychologically harmed by the disclosure? Based on the research, the AHRQ decided that events should always be disclosed, and offered the following suggestions for health care organizations to apply:

Develop an Institutional Policy – A health care organization should have a clear set of guidelines for disclosure management.

Plan for Disclosures – Disclosures should be made pro-actively, and patients should be told personally and simultaneously.

Communicate with the Public – Health care organizations should understand that media coverage of a large scale adverse event is unavoidable. To gain the trust of it’s public, that organization should provide a media response that shows it’s committed to honesty and patient safety.

Plan for Patient Follow-Up – Organizations should provide follow-up diagnostic tests to patients effected by the LSAE. All anxiety resulting for the disclosure of LSAE should be addressed as well. Patients who were physically harmed by an LSAE should be compensated.

Medical Malpractice in NJ or PA: Mininno Law Office

Have you been physically harmed by any form of medical malpractice at a health care organization? Did this event go undisclosed? If so, you’ll need to seek the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney. The team at the Mininno Law Office is prepared to work hard to earn you the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Mininno Law Office for a free case evaluation, or call for a free consultation at (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.