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
The 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.
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