Even though the American Medical Association has definitively declared that physicians have a duty to report impaired, incompetent or unethical colleagues, a recent survey by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that more than a third of doctors disagree that they should report their incompetent colleagues or those impaired by drug abuse.
The numbers of doctors who refused to report dangerous colleagues were even higher among doctors who graduated from non-U.S. medical schools.
Catherine DesRoches, DrPh, who led the study, was reported as saying, “Our findings cast serious doubt on the ability of medicine to self-regulate with regard to impaired or incompetent physicians.”
The failure of medicine to police its own is more than a hypothetical problem. 17% of physicians surveyed reported having direct knowledge of an incompetent or impaired doctor.
The study supports what most people know. Doctors do not police their own. On the contrary, there is a strong bias toward protecting even the most dangerous doctors. All of which highlights the need for a vigorous legal system and medical malpractice lawyers who are willing to invest the time and expense necessary to expose dangerous doctors in an environment that hides and protects them.
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