A nationwide survey of nearly 2,000 physicians revealed that close to 20 percent of physicians disagreed with the notion that they should "never tell a patient something that is not true." If that wasn’t bad enough, 11 percent of the physicians surveyed admitted that they told a patient "something that was not true" in the past year.
Also, according to a report on the findings published in the Sacramento Bee, 35 percent of physicians did not agree with the notion that all their financial ties to companies that make drugs and medical devices should always be fully disclosed to patients. This is troubling since some patients may not be comfortable undergoing surgery or taking a particular medication if they were told their doctor was being funded by a company that would proft from the procedure or prescription.
Take, for example, the DePuy hip replacement recall. After the recall was announced, it was discovered that DePuy paid 200 doctors close to $80 million for “consulting” work. Some surgeons were paid more than $1 million each.
But the most disturbing revelation from the survey was related to doctors actually being comfortable hiding medical mistakes. The survey revealed that 34 percent of physicians did not completely agree that "all significant medical errors" should be disclosed to patients. Furthermore, 20 percent of physicians said they had actually withheld information about medical mistakes from their patients in the past year.
This behavior is totally unacceptable. It’s one thing to not want to tell a patient about a medical error, but it’s totally different to consciously withhold such information when any patient has suffered a serious injuries. For example, my Virginia personal injury law firm represented a client who suffered serious injuries after a surgical sponge was left inside her body. As a result of this blatant medical error, the patient had to undergo a bowel resection surgery.
If you or a loved one is undergoing a procedure, know that your doctor has no right to withhold important information regarding your condition and what he or she is doing or why. Being less than open and truthful is wrong and can be grounds for medical malpractice claims.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.