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Why Some Doctors Feel Their Patients Don’t Need the Truth

Written by Berkowitz

Doctor discussing a patient's fileWhile it is a minority of doctors, it has been discovered that there are some physicians out there who feel that their patients do not need to be told the entire truth – even if openness and honesty is required as part of their duty to care for a patient. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and other institutions recently reported that not all doctors are sincere or honest with their patients – and this is alarming to hear.

The team of researchers originally set out to see how honest doctors were with their patients – and how honest they feel they should be when treating a patient. The overall survey was conducted in 2009 and involved more than 1,800 practicing physicians across the country. The survey asked these physicians how they followed The Charter’s principles in conveying information to patients and gathering informed consent.

The researchers found that:

  • Most of the doctors agreed that they should be open and honest with their patients when talking about the risks and benefits of a treatment plan.
  • The vast majority believed that a doctor should never reveal any confidential information about a patient to an unauthorized party.
  • About one-third of the physicians surveyed said that they don’t feel it is always necessary to disclose medical errors to patients.
  • Nearly one-fifth stated that they did not agree that physicians should never tell the patient an untruth.
  • An estimated 40 percent thought it wasn’t necessary to tell their patients about any financial relationships they may have with medical device companies or pharmaceutical companies.
  • One out of every 10 doctors surveyed stated that they had lied to a patient during the last year.

These findings do raise some concern about whether patients may not be receiving the comprehensive and accurate information they once thought they were getting from physicians. Also, the researchers stated that physicians need to have a commitment to honesty to their patients and follow The Charter – which dictates honesty and openness among treating physicians and patients.

Three Points of the Charter

There are three sections of The Charter that some physicians disagree with, including:

  1. Commitment to Honesty with the Patients – A physician is required to ensure that patients are completely and honestly informed before the patient consents to any treatment. The physician should also acknowledge that medical errors do injure patients and they should report such errors to the patient as well as the property authorities.
  2. Commitment to Patient Confidentiality – A physician must earn the trust of a patient and he or she can do so by never disclosing private information to unauthorized parties.
  3. Commitment to Maintaining Appropriate Relations with Patients – Patients can become dependent on their physicians; therefore, the physician must ensure that he or she never influence a patient to make a decision. If the relationship has escalated to that point, the physician should refer the patient elsewhere.

Did Your Physician Fail to Disclose Information? You Could Qualify for a Malpractice Claim

While a physician may feel that you don’t need to know all risks and benefits, there are glaring issues with a patient consenting to treatment and not being informed. You can contact a medical malpractice attorney to explore options regarding your failed informed consent case, and see if you qualify for compensation. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call 866-479-7909 or contact us online to get started.