A mere 64 percent of U.S. physicians feel that it is completely necessary to report instances of negligence and ineptitude among their colleagues. This was the main takeaway from a recent survey conducted among nearly 2000 physicians, in seven specialty areas, across the country.
Researchers were quick to point out that, as with most surveys, the results may speak to more than the simple numbers. Negligence is certainly a hazy area in some instances and, when it comes down to one doctor and another, could be taken as a simple difference in opinion.
Even so, the fact that almost 40 percent of physicians felt that it was not their job to “report all instances of significantly impaired or incompetent colleagues to their professional society, hospital, clinic, and/or other relevant authority” should be shocking and embarrassing for the medical community.
How many cases of medical malpractice might be avoid if physicians took a more active role in ensuring the safety of their hospital or clinic?
In the study, 17 percent of physicians said that they had firsthand experience or otherwise direct knowledge of incompetent or impaired colleagues. More than 30 percent of these physicians had not reported their peers, most claiming that they believed someone else would take care of it.
Others claimed that they did not believe anything would happen with the report anyway and feared retaliation from other members of the hospital staff.
Especially at a time when physicians are bonding together over the support of medical malpractice caps, it seems like they might do more to ensure that these malpractice cases are not occurring to begin with.
Kudos to those physicians with a vested interest in their environment and the safety of the place where they work, but if this study is at all accurate, there is still a long way to go.