Patients think healthcare is better if they are told about errors

A study reveals that hospital staff members fail to let patients know of an error in their care more than 50% of the time, but patients rate their care as being better if they are informed about errors, reports The Boston Globe.

The Globe article notes that in the November 9 Archives of Internal Medicine study, hospital staffers disclose injuries caused by medical care to patients less than half of the time. But when clinicians discuss the adverse events with patients, those patients are more likely to rate their care as better than patients whose caregivers did not tell them.

Researchers led by Dr. Lenny Lopez of Massachusetts General Hospital conducted a telephone survey of more than 2,500 people who had been patients at 16 hospitals in Massachusetts in 2003. Nine months after their hospital stays, 603 people said they had experienced 845 "negative effects" caused by their medical care, including problems with medications or complications from surgery. The authors analyzed the patients' responses, classifying some events as avoidable and others not, such as an unexpected reaction to a new drug.

(SOURCE: HCPRO Patient Safety Monitor, http://hcpro.com, November 11, 2009; The Boston Globe, http://boston.com, accessed November 11, 2009; Archives of Internal, Medicine, http://archinte.ama-assn.org, accessed November 11, 2009)