The impact of medical errors on the practice of Brazilian physicians

Document Type : Original Article


University of Sao Paulo, Institute of Psychology, Brazil.


Introduction: This article discusses how Brazilian physicians think about medical errors and the consequences on their professional careers. A retrospective study with a qualitative approach based on the professional experience of Brazilian physicians who work in a private hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Materials and methods: The participants were twenty Brazilian physicians, including ten without medical errors and ten with medical errors. In-depth interviews were conducted with the physicians, and content analysis was conducted based on the phenomenological method. 
Results: No significant difference between the two groups was found. Both groups indicated that there is no error-free practice and that educational and health institutions offer no specific training for what to do when an error occurs. Physicians believe that they should not let themselves be influenced by society’s judgment of a physician who commits an error or by the medical error concept. The Brazilian media and society tend to blame physicians for their errors. The availability of a service or an institution that supports physicians who have committed a medical error is important because these professionals do not feel supported when an error occurs and feel that they require mental health support to face the ethical and civil proceedings. Well-established doctor-patient relationships can promote the well-being of medical practitioners.
Conclusion: It is necessary to implement training and institutional practices that specify conduct conducive to improving Brazilian medical practice.


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