J Hand Surg Am. 2014 Sep;39(9):1877-1882. doi: 10.1016/j.jhsa.2014.01.027.
Influential think tanks such as the Institute of Medicine have raised awareness about the implications of medical errors. In response, organizations, medical societies, and hospitals have initiated programs to decrease the incidence and prevent adverse effects of these errors. Surgeons deal with the direct implications of adverse events involving patients. In addition to managing the physical consequences, they are confronted with ethical and social issues when caring for a harmed patient. Although there is considerable effort to implement system-wide changes, there is little guidance for hand surgeons on how to address medical errors. Admitting an error by a physician is difficult, but a transparent environment where patients are notified of errors and offered consolation and compensation is essential to maintain physician-patient trust. Furthermore, equipping hand surgeons with a guide for addressing medical errors will help identify system failures, provide learning points for safety improvement, decrease litigation against physicians, and demonstrate a commitment to ethical and compassionate medical care.