Stories about: medical errors

I’m sorry, please don’t sue me: Do medical apologies avert malpractice claims?

Doctor apologizing-shutterstock_47724541Apologizing for a mistake is always a good idea. With a sincere “I’m sorry,” you acknowledge that harm’s been done, take responsibility for your actions and start to move forward. But for medical professionals, apologizing—something avoided in the past—can have an added benefit: it can discourage malpractice lawsuits.

According to Konstantinos Papadakis, MD, a surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital, there has been a large movement across the country to pass “apology laws,” which encourage clinicians to “apologize to patients and families if there’s been a medical mistake and to have a conversation in which they disclose the details.” Under these statutes, he says, medical professionals are granted legal protections when having these conversations.

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Improving patient safety: Overcoming clinical biases and misperceptions

Context can create bias: Squares A and B are the same shade of gray (created by Edward Adelson, professor of vision science, MIT)

Before you read this post, look at squares A and B in the image to the left. Which is darker?

Next, answer the following questions:

  1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? 
  2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets? 
  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake? 

Did your mind leap to these quick answers — 10 cents, 100 minutes, 24 days?

Such errors on this Cognitive Reflection Test are quite common, and not so different from the lapses in thinking that underlie medical errors.

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