A University of Iowa researcher is studying what kind of ethical background motivates a doctor to admit a medical mistake. Dr. Lauris Kaldjian says he hopes to find the answer to a burning question. He wants to find what it might take to get doctors to come forward and admit their mistakes so the medical errors made most often can be analyzed and patient safety improved. Kaldjian says while it’s scary to think of your doctor making a mistake, it’s a way to learn about patient care.He says without that information, doctors don’t know where to begin putting resources into preventing those mistakes in the future. His research will look at how a doctor makes the decision to come forward and admit errors. Kaldjian says it strikes at the heart of your doctor’s personal, ethical and even religious background to realize they may have made a mistake treating a patient. Kaldjian says the moment is excruciatingly challenging for a doctor, challenging self-image, affecting the future, and carrying the possibility of a patient’s reaction and their anger. Kaldjian admits the study goes past personalities and professional ethics, and into the way a religious upbringing may form a doctor’s ethics. He says he’d hope they have professional reasons for telling the truth but when “pushed against the wall” some people rely on their deepest personal beliefs, including religious values, in deciding to deal with an issue straightforwardly. Kaldjian has a 300-thousand dollar grant to do this four-year study. He’s an assistant professor at U of Iowa in internal medicine, bio-ethics, and medical humanities.
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