Consumer Reports Calls for Doctors to be More Open in Admitting Errors

A fascinating column in the November issue of Consumer Reports magazine offered a frank call for more openness in medicine. Dr. John Santa, an internist who also directs the magazine’s Health Ratings Center, wrote: “Until our health care system gets its act together, patients and their families will have to be constructively assertive to get to the bottom of any mishaps.”
The reason for this, Dr. Santa writes, is that American medicine has developed a professional culture that is very reluctant to acknowledge error. Doctors and nurses fear professional consequences. Administrators, in turn, fear that publicizing mistakes will make medical professionals even more reluctant to report them. Ultimately, the real losers, he writes, are patients, who “deserve to know what happened and that the doctor or hospital is trying to rectify the situation.”
Dr. Santa also offers a series of helpful, common sense suggestions for patients, among them: “Enlist family members to keep track of your care” and “Know what medicine you’re taking and tell your doctor or nurse if you don’t recognize what you’re given.”
Though Dr. Santa does not mention it, it is also true that the legal system has emerged as a check on the sort of medical malfeasance about which he writes. Here in Oregon, a Portland medical malpractice lawyer can offer patients and their families advice on legal remedies they may have after something has gone wrong during a hospital stay. Medical malpractice suits are rarely pleasant, and often come in the wake of great personal pain and suffering on the part of patients and their families. An experienced and compassionate Oregon wrongful death and medical malpractice attorney can, however, be an important resource when other’s mistakes have thrown your family into despair.