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July 3, 1991

The Consequences of Truth Telling

Author Affiliations

Elk Grove Village, Ill

Elk Grove Village, Ill

JAMA. 1991;266(1):66. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470010070028

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To the Editor.  —Recently in Chicago, Ill, a young physician made a mistake and told the truth about it. He used a swab on a patient that had previously been used on another patient who was known to be human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive. Yes, this was a terrible mistake and it is one of those unfortunate events that just should not have happened, but it did. Physicians are as human as anyone else, and we do make mistakes.This young physician told the truth about his mistake and soon found himself out of his training program and thrust into the media spotlight as a lawsuit was filed almost as fast as the ink could dry on the subpoenas (Chicago Tribune. May 8, 1991). Of course, given our current legal climate, what else was the hospital and this physician's training program to do? He had become a liability because he