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Patients are communicating more, doctors disclosing less

Many people conduct research on the internet prior to making a major purchase or choosing a professional service. The internet has made information available to everyone at the touch of the keyboard. For well-informed consumers, there is another area in which knowledge is imperative - personal health and medical treatment.

More patients are going to doctor's offices armed with information regarding specific symptoms. This information may be right or wrong, but at the very least, it can spark a quality conversation between the doctor and patient.

Discussing particular symptoms, life style and other issues with a doctor can help a patient and doctor start down the path to making informed decisions about the right course of treatment. However, a new study recently discovered that doctors may not reciprocate with patients in the exchange of information. And this can lead to medical malpractice.

Some speculate that fear of medical malpractice claims may in part be to blame for the results of a new survey that shows many doctors are not upfront with their patients. The study, published in Health Affairs, asked 2,000 doctors about the degree of disclosure they exercise with their patients. According to the survey, 34 percent of doctors do not feel it is important to disclose serious medical errors to their patients, while 20 percent said that they did not disclose a medical error to their patients last year. Over 50 percent of doctors responded that they may give patients a better prognosis than test results predict.

This lack of disclosure can leave patients at a disadvantage and can affect their overall health. It can even lead to serious errors. Doctors are people too; they are not infallible and can and do make mistakes. Yet, when medical errors cause serious injury, doctors should be held accountable through medical malpractice lawsuits.

Source: ABC News, "Your Doctor May Be Keeping Secrets," Prevention, Apr. 8, 2012.

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