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Doctors Hesitant to Acknowlege Malpractice

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A recent New York Times opinion piece discusses a survey of more than 2500 doctors in the United States and Canada which revelaed doctors believe patients deserve to know about medical errors, but only about half the doctors surveyed would not admit errors of their own.

The researchers are dubious that limits on malpractice suits would have much impact on what doctors admit. Changes in medical education to encourage disclosure of errors would surely help, as would computerized systems to detect errors that might otherwise remain unnoticed. As it is, doctors seem reluctant to provide what patients deserve and say they want: an explicit acknowledgment of error, information about why it happened, and an apology from their physician.