Disclosure following a medical error: lessons learned from a national initiative of workshops with patients, healthcare teams, and executives

Adi Finkelstein, Mayer Brezis, Amiad Taub, Dana Arad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Despite the increase in disclosures of medical errors, transparency remains a challenge. Recognized barriers include shame, fear of litigation, disciplinary actions, and loss of patient trust. In 2018, the Israeli Ministry of Health initiated a series of workshops about disclosure of medical errors. The workshops involved medical center executives, healthcare providers, patients, and family members of patients who had previously been harmed by a medical error. This study presents the lessons learned about perceived challenges in disclosure of errors in 15 such workshops. Methods: Data collection included participant observations in 15 workshops, full audio recordings of all of the workshops, and documentation of detailed field notes. Analysis was performed under thematic analysis guidelines. Results: We identified four main themes: “Providers agree on the value of disclosure of a medical error to the patient”; “Emotional challenges of disclosure of medical error to patients”; “The medico-legal discourse challenges transparency”; and “Providers and patients call for a change in the culture regarding disclosure of medical errors”. Participant observations indicated that the presence of a patient who had experienced a tragedy in another hospital, and who was willing to share it created an intimate atmosphere that enabled an open conversation between parties. Conclusion: The study shows the moral, human, and educational values of open discourse in a protective setting after the occurrence of a medical error. We believe that workshops like these may help foster a culture of institutional disclosure following medical errors. We recommend that the Ministry of Health extend such workshops to all healthcare facilities, establish guidelines and mandate training for skills in disclosure for all providers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Dialogue
  • Disclosure
  • Healthcare providers
  • Israel
  • Listening
  • Medical error
  • Medical malpractice
  • Transparency


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