Journal of Pediatrics says it is a "coin flip" whether the doctor will inform a family of a major treatment error
It should not surprise anyone that a recent study by Pediatricians documented that only about half of the major mistakes committed by pediatricians are likely disclosed by the doctor to the patient's family. Let's face it, the rate of acknowledging error isn't that high among any population group, and we can expect it to be lower if significant consequences (i.e. an expensive and embarrassing malpractice claim, the humiliation of causing injury or death to a child) would follow.
The study was reported in the October issue of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, and follows close after a study that showed that 1 hospitalized child in 15 is the victim of a medication error. The more recent study was based upon a survey of St. Louis and Seattle pediatricians. Only 53 % of the doctors surveyed claimed that they would "definitely" disclose an error, and twice as many doctors suggested they would disclose an "obvious" error as claimed that they would disclose a subtle error that might pass notice. Many doctors also acknowledged that they would not make a "complete" disclosure of the event. Again, this shouldn't surprise us. The pediatricians are probably more honest than the rest of us if one in two will acknowledge that they probably wouldn't report a mistake to the victim.