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Teaching med students to speak up when errors happen

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

It is not a secret that medical students receive very little training regarding both how to identify when an error is occurring and how to react when medical errors do occur as patients are being treated. Thankfully, over the past few years, some institutions have started to take steps to remedy this critical gap in the education of future American physicians. 

For example, fourth-year med students at the Donald & Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell can now take advantage of an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) designed to provide students with feedback as they address a situation in which a medical error occurs. 

Of critical importance is an emphasis on disclosing the error to the patient. Given how few physicians are forthcoming about their missteps due to a fear of liability, teaching med students to admit to their wrongdoing from the start of their careers could be a game-changer for patients nationwide. 

Moving forward

Hopefully, efforts to teach medical students to “own” their mistakes and to speak up when they see others commit errors will lead to more favorable patient outcomes and greater accountability within the medical profession as it evolves.

In the meantime, it is important for patients to keep in mind that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and that non-fatal errors adversely affect millions of Americans annually. 

As a result, if you know or strongly suspect that you’ve suffered harm as a result of a medical mistake, don’t assume that your care team is being forthcoming with you. Consider seeking legal guidance to better ensure that you can benefit from the truth, whatever the truth may be. 


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