According to the survey of nearly 3,000 physicians, the monitoring of impaired and incompetent doctors is not considered common. Thirty-six percent of the survey respondents said that they do not feel obligated by professional commitment to report impaired or incompetent physicians. It also appeared that physicians with greater experience, of 20 years or more, were not as likely to feel a responsibility to report fellow practitioners.
Catherine DesRoches, lead author of the study, was quoted as saying, “self-regulation is the main way to protect patients from harm and make sure that impaired and incompetent physicians get the help they need.”
When it comes to explaining why physicians don’t feel obligated to report other doctors, DesRoches says, “it’s possible that there’s a cultural issue here. It’s a topic that might not have been addressed back when they were in medical school, so they do not know how to handle it.”
What was even more frightening about this study is that the question posed by researchers wasn’t necessarily hypothetical. Researchers found that in the last three years, 17 percent of the survey respondents had direct knowledge of an impaired or incompetent colleague.
The results of this survey give all the more reason why we need lawyers to protect patients with malpractice claims.