Survey Questions Doctors’ Professionalism

question%20mark.pngHonesty doesn’t always seem to be the best policy for doctors. A new study finds that many of them avoid telling patients the truth about their condition, or putting a positive spin on a prognosis, while others prefer to conceal medical errors.

More than 1,890 doctors were included in the survey, which was conducted in 2009. The surveyors mainly wanted to see whether the doctors followed the standards of the Charter on Medical Professionalism, which urges doctors to follow high standards of honesty with patients and to disclose medical errors immediately.

According to the survey, approximately 55% admitted that they occasionally put a positive spin on a patient’s prognosis. The survey asked a number of other questions related to honesty in healthcare, and found other equally disturbing results. Approximately one-third of the doctors surveyed believed that they should not disclose medical errors to patients.

Indiana medical malpractice attorneys find it telling that approximately 1/5th of the doctors in the survey said that they had not fully disclosed errors to patients for fear of being sued. About 66% agreed in theory on the need to report medical errors to patients, but approximately 34% were not so keen on informing patients about errors.

About 45% of the doctors in the survey also did not believe that patients need to be informed about any financial relationship that exists between physicians and corporate entities, like pharmaceutical drug and medical device companies. The Obama administration has recently been investigating the relationship between doctors and drug and medical device companies. Soon, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers will have to begin reporting the payments that they make to doctors for speaking engagements, consultations other activities. However, as the survey shows, many doctors don’t believe that it’s important to inform patients about any monetary relationship that they have with pharmaceutical companies.

Approximately 89% of the doctors said that patients must be informed about all the risks and benefits of treatment. However, when it came to their own actions, they were not so conscientious. Approximately 11% of the doctors had in the previous year, lied to an adult or the guardian of a child.

Interestingly enough, doctors who worked in universities and medical centers, were much more likely to agree with the need to completely report medical errors, compared to doctors who worked in solo practice and two-person practices. Among these doctors, just 61% believed that there was a need for reporting medical errors, while among doctors who worked in hospitals, the rate was much higher at about 78%. Female and minority doctors were found to be much more likely to be honest with patients compared to white/Asian/male doctors.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy are dedicated to the representation of persons injured by the negligence of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals across Indiana. If you have been injured due to medical negligence, consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at our firm.