Perspectives

Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 12, Issue 12, pp 770-775

First online:

To tell the truth

Ethical and practical issues in disclosing medical mistakes to patients
  • Albert W. WuAffiliated withDepartment of Health Policy and Management School of Hyygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins UniversityDivision of Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Thomas A. CavanaughAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of San Francisco
  • , Stephen J. McPheeAffiliated withDivision of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California
  • , Bernard LoAffiliated withDivision of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California
  • , Guy P. MiccoAffiliated withDivision of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California

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Abstract

While moonlighting in an emergency room, a resident physician evaluated a 35-year-old woman who was 6 months pregnant and complaining of a headache. The physician diagnosed a “mixed tension/sinus headache.” The patient returned to the ER 3 days later with an intracerebral bleed, presumably related to eclampsia, and died.