In Japan, healthcare professionals are required by Article 21 of the Medical Practitioner's Law to report "unnatural deaths" to the police in cases of healthcare-associated patient death. The attitudes of medical personnel at the forefront of clinical medicine regarding reporting have not been described. We investigate the attitudes of physicians and risk managers (RMs) regarding reporting to the police under different circumstances. We sent standardized questionnaires to all hospitals in Japan that participate in the National General Residency Program. We asked physicians and RMs to indicate if they would report to the police or not under scenarios including cases where medical error is present, uncertain, or absent. We also asked if they would report when medical error had occurred and the cause-of-death was directly related, possibly related, or unrelated. We found most physicians believe they would report to the police if medical error clearly caused patient death. We found most RMs believe they would advise physicians to report given the same situation. Less but still a large number of participants favor reporting even when cause-of-death is not clearly related to medical care provided. This tendency persisted even when given a scenario where the hospital director opposed the decision to report.
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