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Patient Rights (cont.)

Communication

Open and honest communication is an integral part of the doctor-patient relationship. The AMA's Code of Medical Ethics clearly states that it is a fundamental ethical requirement that a physician should at all times deal honestly and openly with patients. Patients have a right to know their past and present medical status and to be free of any mistaken beliefs concerning their conditions. Situations occasionally occur in which a patient suffers significant medical complications that may have resulted from the physician's mistake or judgment. In these situations, the physician is ethically required to inform the patient of all the facts necessary to ensure understanding of what has occurred. Only through full disclosure is a patient able to make informed decisions regarding future medical care.

Past patient surveys have found that virtually all patients desired some acknowledgment of even minor errors. For both moderate and severe mistakes, patients were significantly more likely to consider legal action if the physician did not disclose the error. Findings such as these reinforce the importance of open communication between physician and patient.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2013

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