Transparency Is Best When Adverse Events Occur

April 5, 2012

Telling a patient about an adverse event is arguably one of the more difficult aspects of practicing medicine. When an adverse outcome does occur, a timely, honest, fact-based account can actually benefit the patient-physician relationship in that it can promote trust.

Telling a patient about an adverse event is arguably one of the more difficult aspects of practicing medicine. When an adverse outcome does occur, a timely, honest, fact-based account can actually benefit the patient-physician relationship in that it can promote trust. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, framing the disclosure around the facts of who, what, when, where, why, and how can be helpful (Table).1 In addition, expressions of sympathy are always appropriate, whereas apologies should only be given after advisement by the facility’s risk manager and the physician’s liability carrier.

How do you handle adverse events in your practice?

References:

References
1. Committee opinion no. 520: disclosure and discussion of adverse events. Obstet Gynecol. 2012;119:686-689.
2. Weiss PM, Miranda F. Transparency, apology and disclosure of adverse outcomes. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2008;35:53-62.