Commentary: Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety: Tear Down That Wall!

Department of Medicine, UMass Memorial Medical Center/University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts 01655, USA.
Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges (Impact Factor: 2.93). 03/2011; 86(3):282-4. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182086f14
Source: PubMed


Although medical malpractice influences the way that physicians learn to practice medicine, information related to malpractice cases is among the most closely guarded data in the hospital and is rarely available to training programs. In this issue, Hochberg and colleagues describe an intervention in which they used data from their hospital's closed malpractice cases as part of a training seminar for surgical residents on malpractice. The authors of this commentary believe that there is very low risk and great potential value to more openly sharing this type of information. They point to potential conflicts between the goals of the risk management discipline (as it has been practiced in some settings in the past) and those of the patient safety discipline as one reason such data are not disseminated widely, and they highlight what they believe to be hopeful trends toward greater transparency. They call on patient safety professionals and educators to use their hospitals' malpractice data to better prepare learners and improve patient care.

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