Patient safety: Medical error disclosure

Although debate continues on the most effective methods of promoting medical error disclosure, there is a general consensus that disclosure of medical errors can help promote patient safety and reduce liability risk. The Institute of Medicine has recommended a reporting system for near misses and errors for this very reason. Barriers continue to exist, however. In light of this reality, healthcare practitioners need to ensure that they use a nonpunitive method of reporting and disclosing medical errors.

Such a solid reporting system should incorporate tracking and trending of medical errors and near misses data. Doing so can help you identify root causes and adopt procedures that prevent the same error or near miss from occurring again, which promotes patient safety through continuous quality improvement.

Therefore, create a medical error disclosure policy to guide staff and healthcare providers on the disclosure of medical errors and near misses. Having such a policy helps to create an environment that supports such disclosure of medical errors and outlines a method by which to do so. Before adopting any policy or procedure on medical error disclosure, have legal counsel review it for compliance with applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations, as well as medical society and accrediting standards particular to your practice.


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