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Study reveals doctors not completely honest with patients

Do you ever wonder if your doctor is being completely honest with you? A recent survey of physicians suggests that many doctors do lie to their patients. Roughly 20 percent of doctors polled admitted they failed to disclose information to a patient for fear of being sued, and about 11 percent of physicians said they have lied to a patient or parent of a patient, according to the study.

To some, this could be considered medical malpractice because patients could potentially make decisions about their health that may not agree with their personal goals or values based on the fact that patients are not receiving all of the information they need.

In addition, the study revealed only 34 percent of physicians believe patients do not necessarily need to learn of every medical error. The survey did not specify if the doctors had a reason for not disclosing all the information, and many times doctors have varying reasons for not being completely honest with patients. One reason could be that the doctors do not want to cause grief, worry or other negative emotions.

Another poll taken by 100 doctors revealed 24 percent claim they have never made a medical mistake, 21 percent say they have hidden mistakes from patients, and 55 percent said they did tell the patient of an error. However, depending on the medical specialty, such as cardiologists, neurosurgeons and family practitioners, the numbers changed.

Within the neurosurgeon group, a whopping 69 percent admitted their mistake. Cardiologists followed with 55 percent and family practitioners with 47 percent.

The tendency to lie to patients also varies between men and women physicians. Female doctors, it appears, feel the need to follow medical practices more closely.

However, researchers said being honest with patients and disclosing information about medical mistakes can reduce medical malpractice lawsuits and patient anger.

Source: MSNBC, "Many docs tell white lies, study finds," Feb. 8, 2012

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