Hospital Disclosure Practices: Results of a National Survey
Posted: 7 May 2003
New patient safety standards from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations that require hospitals to disclose to patients all unexpected outcomes of care took effect on July 1, 2001. We surveyed risk managers at a nationally representative sample of hospitals to determine current disclosure practices. The vast majority of respondents reported that their hospital's practice was to disclose harm at least some of the time; 36% had board-approved policies and 44% were in the process of developing policies at the time of our survey in early 2002. Although more than one half (65%) of respondents reported that they would always disclose a death or serious injury, when presented with actual clinical scenarios respondents were significantly less likely to disclose preventable than non-preventable harms of comparable severity. Multivariate analysis showed that reluctance to disclose preventable harms was twice as likely to occur at hospitals where there were significant concerns about the malpractice implications of disclosure.
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