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Is your doctor being honest with you?

People in Atlanta expect that their doctors will provide them with the best care possible. People also assume that their physicians are providing them with the truth, but one study has revealed that doctors may not be as honest as people think.

A national survey of more than 1,800 doctors recently revealed that almost twenty percent of physicians have at some point withheld information about a medical mistake from a patient. Ten percent of doctors surveyed have lied to a patient within the past year and more than half of the doctors surveyed admitted to giving an overly optimistic prognosis to patients.

In 2002, a set of medical standards was issued recommending that doctor's be honest about patient care and admit to mistakes when they occur. However, these survey results indicate a disconnection between the medical communities' approved ethical standards and doctors' actual practices.

One researcher believes that doctors do not intend to be dishonest, but often tell half-truths to instill hope in a patient. However, when a doctor is not honest about an individual's prognosis, it can skew a patient's understanding of his or her condition. Patients deserve to know the truth so that they can plan their affairs accordingly and potentially choose alternative treatments.

Studies have shown that patients are less likely to file medical malpractice lawsuits if doctors are open and honest about mistakes. It is for the reason that many medical facilities are encouraging doctors to be upfront about any errors. However, nearly a third of the doctors surveyed do not believe physicians should be forthright about mistakes they have made.

Despite the survey's findings, if a doctor has made a medical mistake and caused a patient harm, they should be held accountable. In cases of medical malpractice, a patient may be able to receive compensation.

Source: Associated Press, "Survey finds MDs not always honest with patients," Feb. 8, 2012

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