Survey: Mistrust of healthcare may lead patients to sue after medical error

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 8, 2015


A survey of nearly 700 patients who had experienced harm or whose relatives were harmed by medical errors found that the decision to take legal action depends on how much trust the patients have in the healthcare system.

The study, published in the June issue of BMJ Quality & Safety, examined 1,805 medical mistakes including diagnostic errors, surgical or procedural complications, hospital-associated infections, and medication errors. The mistakes led to death, post-traumatic stress, financial difficulties, and permanent disability. Patients saw a lack of perceived provider and system accountability, deficient and disrespectful communication, and a failure of providers to listen. When patients or their relatives felt the health system was untrustworthy or designed to hide fault, they were more likely to sue.

Read the study abstract.