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Study Discusses Openness and Honesty in Physicians

A new study in Health Affairs has compiled the survey results of more than 1,800 physicians concerning how forthright they are with their patients. After a serious medical error or other form of medical malpractice, victims may not be informed of the truth by their doctors. The study is contrasted with a 2010 telephone survey that showed that nearly 80 percent of Americans trust their doctors fully, while only 8 percent indicated that they did not.

The study revealed that one out of every three physicians did not fully agree that doctors should disclose serious medical errors to patients. One in five did not believe that doctors should never tell their patients something that is not true. A full 40 percent believed in hiding the financial relationships between the doctors and drug and medical device companies from their patients. A co-author of the study did indicate that some of the lies may have been intended for the benefit of the patient.

Medical errors have been a hot button issue recently. A study from the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicated that medication errors are the second leading cause of accidental death, after car accidents. Also alarming was the conclusion that deaths caused by medication errors were actually on the rise. A different study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 found that there were more than 25 injuries caused by medical care per 100 people admitted.

The study makes it clear that patients need to ask questions and take responsibility for the medical care they receive. A person injured while in the care of a doctor may need help to identify if the care deviated from the accepted standard.

Source: Food Consumer, "How Honest Is Your Doctor?," by Dr. Mercola, 12 March 2012

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