Doctors Who Feel it is Okay to Hide Medical Errors

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The overwhelming majority of physicians are highly skilled, ethical professionals, counted on to do the right thing. A new ethics study, however, reveals that a small number of physicians may not be so reliable.

Medscape, a healthcare industry website, recently released its “2016 Ethics Report.” It surveyed some 7,500 physicians. A bi-annual effort, the 2016 report includes comparisons to previous years.

One question asked if doctors ever felt it okay to hide a medical error that could harm a patient. The good news is that more than three-quarters of the physicians said it was never acceptable to cover up a medical mistake.

On the other hand, 7 percent said it is definitely okay to hide the error, and another 14 percent said it actually depended upon the circumstances – meaning they feel there may be times it is acceptable.

Fewer Doctors Today Say They Would Report Medical Mistakes

What’s truly alarming is that six years ago, 95 percent of the doctors surveyed said it is never okay to hide a serious medical error, such as a misdiagnosis, and 91 percent said the same in 2014. That’s significantly more than this year.

Responses to whether or not a physician would report another doctor who was sick or under the influence of drugs or alcohol has remained consistent. In the 2016 survey, as well as in 2014 and 2012, 78 percent of the doctors said they would report doctors who may be impaired.

This year, 4 percent said they would not report potentially dangerous physicians, which was the same as in 2014 and 2012.

Random Drug Testing for Doctors

On a related topic, 42 percent of the physicians this year said that doctors should not be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol; 41 percent said they should undergo such patient safety measures.

And what if doctors knew that a patient was undergoing a procedure by another physician whose skills they questioned? Half said they would tell the patient about their concerns, while 15 percent – more than one out of 10 – said they would always stay silent.

Most of the doctors in this ethics survey provided reassuring answers. But even a small percentage of physicians who don’t follow regularly accepted protocols – either by popular moral measure or established medical care – can do great harm.

If you lost a love one or you were severely injured due to what you believe was a preventable medical error, meet with an experienced medical malpractice attorney and discuss your concerns.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by: Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, December 15, 2016.