Communicating pathology and laboratory errors: Anatomic pathologists' and laboratory medical directors' attitudes and experiences

Suzanne M. Dintzis, Galina Y. Stetsenko, Colleen M. Sitlani, Ann M. Gronowski, Michael L. Astion, Thomas H. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Physicians are urged to communicate more openly following medical errors, but little is known about pathologists' attitudes about reporting errors to their institution and disclosing them to patients. We undertook a survey to characterize pathologists' and laboratory medical directors' attitudes and experience regarding the communication of errors with hospitals, treating physicians, and affected patients. We invited 260 practicing pathologists and 81 academic hospital laboratory medical directors to participate in a selfadministered survey. This survey included questions regarding estimated error rates and barriers to and experience with error disclosure. The majority of respondents (∼95%) reported having been involved with an error, and respondents expressed near unanimous belief that errors should be disclosed to hospitals, colleagues, and patients; however, only about 48% thought that current error reporting systems were adequate. In addition, pathologists expressed discomfort with their communication skills in regard to error disclosure. Improving error reporting systems and developing robust disclosure training could help prevent future errors, improving patient safety and trust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-765
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Volume135
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

Keywords

  • Communication
  • Disclosure outcomes
  • Patient safety
  • Quality assurance

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