Medical Error Disclosure Training: Evidence for Values-Based Ethical Environments
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- Rathert, C. & Phillips, W. J Bus Ethics (2010) 97: 491. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0520-3
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Disclosure of medical and errors to patients has been increasingly mandated in the U.S. and Canada. Thus, some health systems are developing formal disclosure policies. The present study examines how disclosure training may impact staff and the organization. We argue that organizations that support “disclose and apologize” activities, as opposed to “deny and defend,” are demonstrating values-based ethics. Specifically, we hypothesized that when health care clinicians are trained and supported in error disclosure, this may signal a values-based ethical environment, and staff may be more committed to the organization. We surveyed 325 clinical care providers employed by a large hospital that had recently begun implementing disclosure policies and training. Disclosure training explained significant variance in perceptions of the ethical environment, and the ethical environment mediated the relationship between disclosure training and organizational commitment. Although this study explored disclosure of medical errors, organizational support for error disclosure is a concept that could be relevant for many types of organizations.