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We want to believe that the hospital is a safe place. When that hope is unrealized, we expect corrective measures to be taken. If hospital negligence or error results in injury to yourself or a loved one, you expect responsibility to be accepted by those responsible. If a physician will not or cannot correct his or her own incompetence, then someone will raise the issue internally … right?
Maybe not, according to a recent study of 1,900 physicians published last week in the Journal Watch General Medicine. As most studies go, the results should be considered a representation of common opinion, rather than hard and cold facts.
However, the results still bear consideration and deserve more than a bit of disappointment.
Nearly 40 percent of physicians polled felt that it was not their job to report incompetence, negligence or error on the part of their colleagues. The top reasons were fear of retaliation and the belief that someone else would take care of it for them.
A good deal simply felt that it was not their place to comment.
So whose place is it?
As patients, it can be hard to spot medical problems before they have already caused damage. Prior to that, most will have little more than a gut feeling to go on. Physicians who know what good work looks like, and what shoddy work can do, are in the best place to correct or report colleagues.
If a high percentage is unwilling, how many malpractice cases will occur needlessly – how many lives will be affected?
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