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Many surgeons are reluctant to apologize after a mistake

If you are ever the victim of a surgical mistake, it would seem that honesty about what happened would be the least of what you are owed. Sadly, many surgeons are more worried about their reputation and legal liability than they are about being honest with their patients and admitting they made a mistake.

A survey published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery, reported that barely half (55 percent) of practicing surgeons said they would apologize to a patient after making an error, and would inform the patient if the error had been preventable.

The surgeons surveyed for the report mostly agreed that they followed some recommended disclosure practices -- though not all of them. Those practices include explaining to the patient or the patient's family why an error occurred, generally within 24 hours of the operation, according to CBS News.

Most said they would express "regret" that the patient was harmed by a medical error but not necessarily take personal responsibility for a negligent mistake.

Even if not strictly required by the Hippocratic oath, a heartfelt apology seems like the decent thing to do when a patient is needlessly injured. At a minimum it assists medical malpractice victims in beginning to heal emotionally from what they have endured. Beyond that, the realities of surgical errors and other forms of malpractice are that they tend to lead to more medical care to fix the problem. That has economic consequences. In addition, there is the additional pain and disability produced by extended recovery and mistake-related injury. To get the compensation you deserve after such a traumatic and costly experience, you need an experienced personal injury attorney.

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