KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Survey Finds Doctors Not Always Honest With Patients

Most physicians paint overly optimistic prognoses for their patients, and many have withheld information concerning their medical mistakes and financial relationships with drug companies and device manufacturers, according to a national survey published in Health Affairs.

The Associated Press: Study Finds MDs Not Always Honest With Patients
Trust your doctor? A survey finds that some doctors aren't always completely honest with their patients. More than half admitted describing someone's prognosis in a way they knew was too rosy. Nearly 20 percent said they hadn't fully disclosed a medical mistake for fear of being sued. And 1 in 10 of those surveyed said they'd told a patient something that wasn't true in the past year. The survey, by Massachusetts researchers and published in this month's Health Affairs, doesn't explain why, or what wasn't true (Neergaard, 2/9)

Boston Globe: Survey Shows Where Doctors Shade The Truth
Most physicians paint overly optimistic prognoses for their patients, and many have told lies or withheld information concerning their medical mistakes and financial relationships with drug companies and device manufacturers, according to a national survey conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. The 2009 survey of nearly 1,900 doctors, published yesterday in the journal Health Affairs, shows that many doctors do not adhere to the standards of medical societies and accreditation groups, which have long required doctors to be open and honest with their patients (Kotz, 2/9).

The Baltimore Sun: Do Doctors Lie To Patients?
Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston surveyed 1,891 physicians nationwide and one-tenth said they had told a patient something untruthful in the last year. Nearly 20 percent of physicians surveyed said they had not fully disclosed an error to a patient in the previous year because they feared a malpractice case. Doctors feared lawsuits even though research has shown prompt disclosure cuts down on malpractice cases (Walker, 2/8).

WBUR's CommonHealth blog: Doctors Not Always Open, Honest With Patients, Survey Finds
Specifically, about one-third of the survey respondents didn’t completely agree with disclosing serious medical errors to patients because they feared a malpractice case; two-fifths did not completely agree that they should disclose their financial relationships with drug companies to patients; and over one-tenth said in the past year, they’d actually told patients something that wasn’t true (Zimmerman, 2/8).

Kaiser Health News: Study: Some Physicians Not Always Honest With Patients
A vast majority of physicians said they embraced the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Charter on Medical Professionalism which calls for fully informing patients about the risks and benefits of interventions.  But more than a third said they did not completely agree it was necessary to disclose “all serious medical errors to affected patients” (Marcy, 2/8).

Medscape: Honesty Is a Sometimes Policy for Many Physicians
To medical ethicist Linda Emanuel, MD, PhD, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the survey results represent a "welcome wake-up call" for her profession. ... In their article, Dr. Iezzoni and co-authors report that honesty and openness among physicians vary on the basis of demographic factors, specialty, and practice setting. Women and underrepresented minorities in medicine are more likely to follow the principles laid out in the Charter on Medical Professionalism (Lowe, 2/8).

Journal of the American Medical Association: Survey: Some Physicians Not Always Honest or Frank With Patients
Not all physicians are as truthful or open in their communications with patients as the latter may expect, behavior that is in conflict with at least some of the tenets of the Charter on Medical Professionalism, according to new findings appearing today in Health Affairs. The Charter on Medical Professionalism, which is endorsed by more than 100 professional groups worldwide and the US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, requires openness and honesty in physicians’ communication with patients (Mitka, 2/8).



This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.