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Legal Consequences of the Moral Duty to Report Errors

Hall, Jacqulyn Kay JD, BSN, MEd

JONA's Healthcare Law, Ethics, and Regulation: September 2003 - Volume 5 - Issue 3 - p 60-64

Increasingly, clinicians are under a moral duty to report errors to the patients who are injured by such errors. The sources of this duty are identified, and its probable impact on malpractice litigation and criminal law is discussed. The potential consequences of enforcing this new moral duty as a minimum in law are noted. One predicted consequence is that the trend will be accelerated toward government payment of compensation for errors. The effect of truth-telling on individuals is discussed.

Jacky Hall is a nurse and lawyer, writer, speaker, and teacher on morals and law in illness care, and clinical faculty at Texas Tech University School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy. She has written amicus briefs for nurse groups on the Oregon assisted-suicide law, and in the cases the US Supreme Court used to decide that there was no right to suicide with assistance. She has written extensively on nursing law and morals, and is author of Nursing Ethics and Law (1996), Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, and Law and Ethics for Clinicians (2002) Amarillo, Tex: Jackhal Books.

Corresponding author: Jacqulyn Kay Hall, JD, BSN, MEd, 82002, 18 Nottingham Road, Amarillo, TX 79124-5710 (e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.