OBJECTIVE: The study aimed to identify healthcare providers’ obligation towards medical errors disclosure as well as to study the association between the severity of the medical error and the intention to disclose the error to the patients and their families.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional study design was followed to identify the magnitude of disclosure among healthcare providers in different departments at a randomly selected tertiary care hospital in Dubai.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: The total sample size accounted for 106 respondents. Data were collected using a questionnaire composed of two sections namely; demographic variables of the respondents and a section which included variables relevant to medical error disclosure.
RESULTS: Statistical analysis yielded significant association between the obligation to disclose medical errors with male healthcare providers (X2 = 5.1), and being a physician (X2 = 19.3). Obligation towards medical errors disclosure was significantly associated with those healthcare providers who had not committed any medical errors during the past year (X2 = 9.8), and any type of medical error regardless the cause, extent of harm (X2 = 8.7). Variables included in the binary logistic regression model were; status (Exp β (Physician) = 0.39, 95% CI 0.16–0.97), gender (Exp β (Male) = 4.81, 95% CI 1.84–12.54), and medical errors during the last year (Exp β (None) = 2.11, 95% CI 0.6–2.3).
CONCLUSION: Education and training of physicians about disclosure conversations needs to start as early as medical school. Like the training in other competencies required of physicians, education in communicating about medical errors could help reduce physicians’ apprehension and make them more comfortable with disclosure conversations.