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Special Article
July 24, 2000

Disclosure and Prevention of Medical Errors

Fred Rosner, MD; Jeffrey T. Berger, MD; Pieter Kark, MD; et al Joel Potash, MD; Allen J. Bennett, MD; for the Committee on Bioethical Issues of the Medical Society of the State of New York
Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Services at Queens Hospital Center, Jamaica, NY (Dr Rosner); Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY (Drs Rosner and Potash); Department of Clinical Ethics, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, NY (Dr Berger); Department of Medicine, Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook (Dr Berger); and Departments of Medical Humanities (Dr Kark) and Family Medicine (Dr Potash), State University of New York, Health Sciences Center, Syracuse. Dr Potash is senior ethics consultant, University Hospital, State University of New York, Health Sciences Center, Syracuse. Dr Bennett is an attending physician, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(14):2089-2092. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.14.2089

Medical errors occur and are sometimes unavoidable. Physicians generally, but not always, have ethical and moral obligations to disclose their errors to the patient. Because common medical errors can be expected, physicians are obligated to work within health systems toward reducing systems flaws that promote errors. However, the obligations of physicians to disclose errors made by others are less clear. This article discusses the professional ethics involved in disclosing and preventing medical errors.