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Why are doctors slow to admit their mistakes?

When aspiring physicians first enter medical school, they're required to take what's known at the Hippocratic Oath. By taking it, they're understood to agree to uphold certain ethical standards when it comes to taking care of patients that they may come into contact with. If doctors are bound by this, then you may wonder why so many doctors seem either unable or unwilling to admit when they've made a mistake.

Perhaps one of the most likely reasons doctors are slow to admit fault when errors first occur is because they fear that they'll be sued for doing so. They've probably been admonished time and time again by their employers to never readily admit fault for their actions, even if it's clear that they did something wrong.

If we think of a scenario such as having a car accident in an at-fault state, most individuals would be advised by their attorneys to never admit responsibility for causing a crash. They'd be told to never do this as it would immediately take away any opportunity for that individual's defense attorney to cast any doubt on whether he or she caused the crash or not. It would put him or her in a position to be held liable for the crash and resulting injuries and damages.

The same logic applies in the case of physicians. If a doctor was to admit that he or she didn't account for all surgical sponges before closing a patient up and then later admitted to leaving hem behind, then it could put his or her career in jeopardy. He or she could cost the insurance company millions of dollars in damages for the error as well.

Other medical providers avoid reporting doctor errors out of fear that they will be sued for negligence, even if evidence suggests all that they did was witness it and didn't actually do anything wrong themselves. Others worry too much about losing their jobs if they admit to having made a mistake.

Doctors also fear the impact that admitting to having committed an error can have on their reputations. It can make them seem inadequately experienced if they misdiagnose a patient or order an inappropriate treatment regiment for their condition.

If you've suffered an injury or your health has declined because of your physician's suspected negligence, then a Tucson attorney can advise you of your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in your legal matter.

Source: Baltimore Post-Examiner, "Factors affecting doctors from admitting mistakes," Steven Christensen, May 30, 2018

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