Medical Mistakes and Older Patients: Admitting Errors and Improving Care


Address correspondence to Marshall B. Kapp, Office of Geriatric Medicine, Wright State University School of Medicine, 3640 Colonel Glenn Highway, Dayton, OH 45435.


The topic of medical errors has received substantial professional and public attention over the past few years. However, very little of this attention has focused specifically on the implications of this problem for older patients or on the healthcare professionals and settings specifically serving them. This article examines some of the most salient of those implications, with particular emphasis on the physician's ethical duty to admit and address errors. Practical obstacles, including physicians' legal anxieties, to admitting and thereby reducing and mitigating medical errors are outlined, along with potential strategies for effectively addressing and overcoming those barriers.