Emergency Physicians and Disclosure of Medical Errors

Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Nov;48(5):523-31. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2006.04.007. Epub 2006 Jun 9.


Error in medicine is a subject of continuing interest among physicians, patients, policymakers, and the general public. This article examines the issue of disclosure of medical errors in the context of emergency medicine. It reviews the concept of medical error; proposes the professional duty of truthfulness as a justification for error disclosure; examines barriers to error disclosure posed by health care systems, patients, physicians, and the law; suggests system changes to address the issue of medical error; offers practical guidelines to promote the practice of error disclosure; and discusses the issue of disclosure of errors made by another physician.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Emergency Medicine / ethics*
  • Emergency Medicine / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors* / ethics
  • Medical Errors* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Physician-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Safety Management / ethics
  • Truth Disclosure / ethics*