Roughly one in three doctors with knowledge of an impaired or incompetent colleague did not alert proper authorities, most often because they believed others had addressed the problem, that nothing would change or from fear of retribution, according to newly published survey results in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Many docs have declined to report impaired colleagues: survey
Of the roughly 1,890 doctors in seven specialties—pediatrics, family practice, general surgery, anesthesiology, psychiatry, internal medicine and cardiology—who responded to the 2009 mail survey, 17% said they were aware of an impaired or incompetent physician in the prior three years. Sixty-seven percent said they reported such colleagues to proper authorities.
The survey, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, found doctors do not uniformly support reporting all instances of impaired or incompetent doctors, though the study authors noted some states mandate reporting and the American Medical Association says reporting is an ethical obligation. One-third of physicians said they did not completely agree that doctors should report all instances of significantly impaired or incompetent colleges.
Sixty-nine percent of physicians said they were very or somewhat prepared to report an impaired colleague and 64% said they were very or somewhat prepared to report those who were incompetent.
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