Being involved in serious patient injury is devastating for most doctors. During the last two decades, several efforts have been launched to improve Norwegian doctors’ coping with adverse events and complaints.
The method involved survey to a representative sample of 1792 Norwegian doctors in 2012. The questions on adverse events and its effects were previously asked in 2000.
Response rate was 71%. More doctors reported to have been involved in episodes with serious patient harm in 2012 (35%) than in 2000 (28%), and more of the episodes were reported as required by law. Doctors below age 50 report better support from colleagues, more collegial retrospective discussion on the event and less patient/family blame. In all, 27% of the doctors had been reported to the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision; 79% of these complaints were rejected; 73% of the doctors who had received a reaction from the health authorities found the reaction reasonable, but almost one out of five practiced more testing and referrals after a complaint and 25% claimed that the complaint had made them into a more fearful doctor.
Our results indicate that adverse events are being met more openly in 2012 than in 2000, and that coping with imperfection and patient complaints is less devastating for new generations of doctors.
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