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A doctor's concerns over admitting doctor error; other issues

Recently, a new physician penned an opinion piece for a local paper in her town. In it, she contemplated if her medical education went far enough, especially when communicating with patients concerning a possible doctor error or other uncomfortable conversations that are bound to occur during their professional careers. This particular medical provider's thoughts may be of interest to patients in Maryland and elsewhere.

This doctor recently earned her degree to practice medicine. While she validated the value of her medical education, she questioned if medical students were provided enough opportunity to learn how to relate to patients. She referred to the "art of medicine" frequently in order to distinguish between the application of skilled medical knowledge and the more subtle ability to communicate with patients in a compassionate manner. She stressed that being able to differentiate between serious medical problems in different scenarios was an invaluable part of her medical training. However, she questioned if doctors are taught well enough how to deliver negative news in an empathic manner.

This doctor asserted that the attitude of most of the training physicians and instructors was that future doctors develop their own ways of relating to patients. She did admit that there were some efforts to ensure doctors were given practice by having staged conversations with mock patients. Unfortunately, according to this young physician, until the medical institutions acknowledge that doctors need to be taught how to initiate serious discussions with their patients, new doctors in the future, may continue to struggle to develop the most effective tools for clear and compassionate doctor to patient communication.

This doctor seemed to express a sincere desire to learn to relate in the best manner possible to her patients. Understandably, clear communication between doctor and patient may enable some mistakes to be avoided. However, until all physicians in every practice area learn to communicate openly when there has been a doctor error or other more egregious action, patients may continue to run a heightened risk of becoming a victim of malpractice. Maryland residents who might have been harmed by the negligence or inaction of a medical professional may seek information concerning the steps necessary to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. By properly documenting doctor error or other medical negligence, victims may be entitled to a monetary judgment to cover current and future damages accruing from the mistake.

Source:, "Medical training must start including the art of communication", Nancy Wang, May 14, 2014

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