Monday, June 4, 2012

Not All Physicians Honest with Patients

A 2009 survey of 1,891 practicing physicians from across the US aimed to find out how many of them adhered strictly to the Charter on Medical Professionalism endorsed by 100+ professional groups around the world and the US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.  It requires openness and honesty in physician communications with patients.

A large majority agreed completely that physicians should fully inform patients about risks and benefits of interventions.  They also agreed that they should never disclose confidential information to unauthorized people.
  • But about 1 in 3 did not completely agree with telling patients about serious medical errors.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 did not completely agree that physicians should never tell a patient something untrue.
  • Almost 2 of 5 did not completely agree that they should disclose to patients their financial relationships with drug and device companies.
  • More than 1 in 10 said they had told patients something that was not true during the previous year.
The authors of the research represent Harvard Medical School, the Mongan Institute for Health Policy, University of Massachusetts and other august bodies.  They stated that, “Our findings raise concerns that some patients might not receive complete and accurate information from their physicians, and doubts about whether patient-centered care is broadly possible without more widespread physician endorsement of the core communication principles of openness and honesty with patients.”  


This article was originally published in Pathways Physician & Health Professional Bulletin - Issue 23.  To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at

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