Disclosing Errors to Patients: Perspectives of Registered Nurses
Authors: Shannon, Sarah E.; Foglia, Mary Beth; Hardy, Mary; Gallagher, Thomas H.
Source: Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, Volume 35, Number 1, January 2009 , pp. 5-12(8)
Publisher: Joint Commission Resources
Abstract:Background: Disclosure of medical errors has been conceptualized as occurring primarily in the physician-patient dyad. Yet, health care is delivered by interprofessional teams, in which nurses share in the culpability for errors, and hence, in responsibility for disclosure. This study explored nurses' perspectives on disclosure of errors to patients and the organizational factors that influence disclosure.
Methods: Between October 2004 and December 2005, 11 focus groups were conducted with 96 registered nurses practicing in one of four health care organizations in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. Focus groups were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Findings:Nurses reported routinely independently disclosing nursing errors that did not involve serious harm, but felt the attending physician should lead disclosures when patient harm had occurred or when errors involved the team. Nurses usually were not involved in the error disclosure discussion among the team to plan for the disclosure or in the actual disclosure, leading to ethically compromising situations in nurses' communication with patients and families. Awareness of existing error disclosure policies was low. Nonetheless, these nurses felt that hospital policies that fostered a collaborative process would be helpful. Nurse managers played a key role in creating a culture of transparency and in being a resource for error disclosures.
Discussion: Nurses conceived of the disclosure process as a team event occurring in the context of a complex health care system rather than as a physician-patient conversation. Nurses felt excluded from these discussions, resulting in their use of ethically questionable communication strategies. The findings underscore the need for organizations to adopt a team disclosure process. Health care organizations that integrate the entire health care team into the disclosure process will likely improve the quality of error disclosure.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2009
- Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.
Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Subscribe to this Title
- Information for Advertisers
- Reprints and Permissions
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites