Many cases of malpractice are settled with good communication and an excuse, when appropriate. In contrast, weak communication is at the roots of most cases that are brought to the attention of a wider community, to media, or to the legal system.
Accusations of medical malpractice often originate from misunderstanding of medicine as an accurate scientific discipline. Patients, their relatives, lawyers, and journalists do not understand that medical decisions are often based on incomplete or non-specific diagnostic procedures, and that the most probable diagnosis in a certain situation may not be the correct one.
Regardless of whether a suboptimal outcome is due to circumstances beyond physician’s control or to a clearly inappropriate decision, a patient should be entitled to financial compensation.
Prosecution of individual physicians is justified only in rare cases of overt misbehavior.
Open discussion and careful analysis of every case of malpractice are essential steps for the prevention of it and the improvement of patient safety.
KeywordsCommunication Levels of responsibility Medical mistake Guilt Financial compensation
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