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News1990April › Sorry seems to be the hardest word. especially when it's a doctor try › April 1990

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. especially when it's a doctor try

Readers of an earlier E-news broadcast will have read our coverage of some Practice Notes for consultants that revealed, all things considered, and weighing up the pros and cons, that doctors were, possibly, human

Readers of an earlier E-news broadcast will have read our coverage of some Practice Notes for consultants that revealed, all things considered, and weighing up the pros and cons, that doctors were, possibly, human.

A new study goes further, and suggests that doctors make mistakes. In fact, says the research, mistakes are inevitable.

Most of us had already reached the mindset that doctors are human, and that mistakes will happen. Often our concerns turn more to the way that mistakes are handled.

The researchers compared the reactions to mistakes of doctors and patients. Doctors, for instance, felt that errors should be disclosed only in cases where there was harm caused, unless the harm was 'trivial', an interesting term that was not defined.

Patients wanted the doctors to show compassion, whereas the doctors felt they had to be professional. Finally, patients wanted to hear that golden word 'sorry', something that the doctors felt was going too far.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 289: 1001-7).


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