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'A Principled Approach to Medical Mistakes' To Be Addressed at 54th Annual International Congress for Respiratory Therapists
Date:12/9/2008

DALLAS, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Timothy McDonald, physician, attorney and chief safety and risk officer for Health Affairs at the University of Illinois Medical Center, will give the keynote address titled "The Legal and Ethical Pitfalls in Respiratory Care," at the 54th Annual American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) International Respiratory Congress at the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday, Dec. 13 beginning at 10:15 a.m.

One of the issues Dr. McDonald will address is the legal and ethical issues facing respiratory therapists (RTs) when they make a mistake while treating a patient. He gives RTs the same advice he recommends to physicians. With the context of a clear process of reporting and investigating adverse outcomes, RTs should be empowered to admit and discuss their mistakes with colleagues and patients, to apologize and do everything possible to correct the problem as it occurs. By promptly disclosing medical errors, medical professionals - including RTs - can restore and maintain trust with their patients.

"This is not a recommendation most malpractice attorneys would support, but it has proven to be the right and smart thing to do for both physicians and patients," said Dr. McDonald, who received his medical education at Indiana University and law degree from Loyola University. "Patients want and deserve to be treated honestly and fairly. With the context of an appropriate process, once a physician, respiratory therapist or any medical professional takes responsibility for an error and then works to correct that error, the likelihood of a lawsuit significantly diminishes. It's the right thing to do."

Two years after the University of Illinois instituted their comprehensive approach to adverse patient events, the institution has actually seen a reduction in lawsuits and has not seen the financial medical malpractice catastrophe t
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SOURCE American Association for Respiratory Care
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