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Code of silence between doctors may leave patients at risk

Doctors are trusted to always be at the top of their games when plying their craft. Yet they're still human, and errors in their judgment or in their execution of a procedure are bound to happen. It's estimated that close 440,000 patients die yearly from medical errors, be they something as simple as the wrong prescription being given to much more glaring problems such as operating on the wrong site or leaving a surgical tool inside of patient's body cavity.

Yet it's often not the initial mistakes themselves that cause so much harm, but the fact that they often are left untreated, sometimes even with the doctor or a colleague knowing that the mistake has been made. A culture of a code of silence regarding these issues and the tendency for doctors to circle the wagons when confronted with accusations has no doubt perpetuated this problem, which some now describe as a near daily occurrence at many large hospitals.

Many organizations and healthcare systems across the country are aware of the lack of communication regarding mistakes, and have attempted to improve communication between doctors as well as with doctors and patients. Yet many admit that doctors still take it very personally when confronted with mistakes, and many also worry about admitting fault only to have it used against them in a malpractice suit.

While some cite a change in the culture of patients being more understanding that their doctors are human, the injuries and/or deaths resulting from their errors often can't be overlooked. Patients injured because of a doctor's error have the right to seek compensation. Those looking for such compensation may wish to work with a personal injury attorney to pursue it.

Source: "When docs make mistakes, should colleagues tell? Yes, report says" JoNel Aleccia, Oct. 30, 2013 

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