Jonathan R. Cohen, JD, PhD
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Cohen J.; Future Research on Disclosure of Medical Errors. Ann Intern Med. 2004;141:481. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-141-6-200409210-00017
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2004;141(6):481.
TO THE EDITOR:
When we consider the fine study by Mazor and colleagues on disclosure of medical errors (1) and the thoughtful accompanying editorial by Frenkel and Liebman (2), it is important to keep in mind what we do not know. Not unlike much of the research in this area, Mazor and colleagues' empirical study is hypothetical: Participants are asked to imagine how they would respond to receiving or not receiving an apology in hypothetical cases of injury. The results of such research showing, inter alia, limited effects of full disclosure on a patient's decision to seek legal advice are no doubt important. However, just as results of in vitro and in vivo studies can differ, we should keep in mind the possibility that the effects of actual apologies may differ from those of hypothesized apologies. In significant part, apologies function at an emotional level through anger reduction. It is quite possible that how patients say they would respond to an apology in a cognitive, pencil-and-paper exercise and how they would respond in real life may differ.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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