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Summaries of Independent Scientist (K) Awards

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Gallagher, Thomas

Institution: University of Washington, Seattle
Grant Title: Enhancing the Disclosure of Medical Errors to Patients
Grant Number:  K08 HS014012
Duration: 3 years (2003-2006)
Total Award: $629,500

Project Description: This research had four main aims:

  1. To describe the attitudes of physicians towards error disclosure and determine whether these attitudes are related to personal characteristics (e.g. demographics, specialty, time in practice).
  2. To describe the attitudes of patients towards error disclosure and determine whether these attitudes are related to personal characteristics (e.g., socio-demographics, past experiences, perceptions of medical care) and how they relate to important outcomes such as trust, satisfaction, and intent to change providers or sue.
  3. To assess whether current institutional policies support full disclosure of medical errors.
  4. To develop and disseminate a model institutional error disclosure policy and assess the policy's impact on health care providers' attitudes towards and experience with error disclosure.

Career Goals: Dr. Gallagher is an attending physician and Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical History & Ethics at the University of Washington Medical Center. He received his MD from Harvard University and did his residency in Internal Medicine at the Barnes Hospital, Washington University in St. Louis. This was followed by a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars position at the University of California, San Francisco. He continues to conduct health services research with a focus on medical errors 

Progress to Date: This grant has been completed.  Dr. Gallagher found patients uniformly desire the disclosure of harmful errors.  Physicians in both the United States and Canada support the disclosure of medical errors to patients but are unsure how this should be implemented.

Highlights and Specific Accomplishments:

  • Best Published Research Paper of the Year, Society of General Internal medicine, 2004.
  • Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholars in Bioethics Award, 2003.

K-Generated Publications (selected):

Gallagher TH, Levinson W. A prescription for protecting the doctor-patient relationship. Response to letter to editor. American Journal of Managed Care 2004. 10.

Gallagher TH, Waterman AD, Ebers AG, et al. Patients' and physicians' attitudes regarding the disclosure of medical errors.  Journal of the American Medical Association 2003. 289:1001-7.

Jeffe DB, Dunagan WC, Garbutt J, Burroughs TE, Gallagher TH, et al. Physicians' and nurses' perspectives on error reporting in hospitals. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety 2004. 30:471-79.

Burroughs TE, Waterman AD, Gallagher TH, et al. Patient concerns about medical errors in emergency departments. Academic Emergency Medicine 2005. 12(1):57-64.

Gallagher TH, Lucas M. Should we disclose harmful medical errors to pPatients. If so, how? Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management 2005. 12:253-59.

Chan D, Gallagher TH, Reznick R, Levinson W. How surgeons disclose medical errors: A study using standardized patients. Surgery 2005. 138:851-58.

Waterman AD, Gallagher TH, Garbutt J, et al. Hospitalized patients' attitudes about and participation in error prevention. Journal of General Internal Medicine 2006. 21:367-70.

Gallagher TH, Garbutt JM, Waterman AD, et al. Choosing your words carefully: How physicians would disclose harmful errors to patients. Archives of Internal Medicine 2006. 166:1585-93.

Gallagher TH, Brundage G, Bommarito KM, et al. Risk managers' attitudes and experiences regarding patient safety and error disclosure: A national survey. Journal of Healthcare Risk Management 2006. 26:11-6.

Surbonne AS, Rowe M, Gallagher TH. Confronting medical errors in oncology and disclosing them to cancer patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2007. 12:1463-67.

Gallagher TH, Studdert DM, Levinson W. Disclosing harmful medical errors to patients. New England Journal of Medicine 2007. 356:2713-19.

Levinson W, Gallagher TH. Disclosing medical errors to patients: A status report in 2007. CMAJ 2007. 177(3):265-67.

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