The purpose of this research is to investigate the relationship among jurors’ attribution of responsibility of the error, patient styles and juror decisions (e.g. acquittal of the physician). Specifically, this research examines the influence of an individual’s approach to their healthcare (active vs. passive), and decisions to acquit in malpractice cases.
In total, 459 individuals were surveyed using a commercial call center for participation in a corresponding mail survey. Surveys were also distributed to undergraduate business students at a Midwestern university.
Cluster analysis revealed two categories of patient styles: “active patients” (39.4 per cent) and “passive patients” (60.6 per cent). Regardless of patient style, this research found all respondents viewed medical error disclosure as important. However, respondents in the passive group were more likely to acquit the physician and the hospital nursing staff as compared with those classified as active.
The safety of patients in the healthcare system and prevention of errors is a critical issue. However, when errors occur, medical providers should disclose information to the patient and take responsibility to attenuate their negative impact. Further, this research reveals that patients who rely more on their physicians, trust their recommendations and question physicians less are more likely to acquit. Medical providers can use this information as motivation to continue to build this type of trust with their patients.
Medical errors are costly for all parties involved. This research provides insight for not only members of the legal profession involved in medical malpractice cases, but also risk managers and hospital administrators and healthcare providers regarding the decision-making process used by individuals serving on a jury.
The authors would like to thank the Association for Marketing & Heath Care Research. A previous version of this paper won the Best Faculty Paper at the 2015 AM&HCR Conference in Steamboat, CO.
This paper forms part of a special section “Issues in healthcare and pharmacology for vulnerable populations”, guest edited by J. Michael Weber.
Black, H.G., Goad, E.A. and Attaway, J.S. (2018), "Medical errors: extreme service failures and recoveries", International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 15-24. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPHM-11-2016-0063Download as .RIS
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