Trainees urged to admit mistakes

MEDICAL students need to be taught that “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean “I’m liable” if they are to be encouraged to admit their mistakes, an expert has recommended.

The advice follows a recent study by researchers in the University of Washington internal medicine department, published in Medical Education, which found medical trainees may not be prepared to disclose medical errors to patients.

The study surveyed 758 trainees in internal medicine and asked them whether they would report a harmful medical error depending on how apparent the error would be to the patient.

It found trainees were more likely to disclose obvious errors than errors that patients were unlikely to recognise.

Medico-legal consultant and GP Dr Craig Lilienthal said while laws in Australia better protected medical practitioners from litigation as the result of an apology, he believed in many cases junior doctors were too