Film teaches art of medical error disclosure

The Georgia Hospital Association, with support from a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, has developed a film to instruct health care professionals on the art of disclosing medical errors and unanticipated outcomes to patients and family members.

Written and directed by John Banja, PhD, clinical ethicist and assistant director for health sciences and clinical ethics at Emory University in Atlanta, the video consists of two parts.

Part one features a panel discussion of three clinical vignettes involving a medical error. The panel is comprised of John Banja; Susan Nemchik, a hospital risk manager; and two Georgia health care attorneys, Temple Sellers and Jack Schroder.

Part two presents examples of a host of empathetic communication techniques that can be useful to health care professionals when they give bad news to patients.

The video is available for free on-line viewing on the web site for the Emory Center for Ethics (

The hope is that health care professionals who find themselves in the midst of uncomfortable conversations will be assisted by the tapes various recommendations and insights, Banja says.

The Georgia Hospital Association holds the copyright to the film, which is not intended to serve as a source of legal standards or guidelines but as recommendation only.