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40 Percent of Doctors Would Not Report Incompetence Among Colleagues

Whether you are preparing to be a mother again or will be a mother for the first time, for most, pregnancy is a nerve racking experience. There is only so much you can do to ensure a safe delivery, and you really have to place a lot of trust in the physician helping you through it.

On that end, there is a lot that can go wrong. Misreading vital signs and carelessly using forceps or a vacuum can lead to severe birth injuries. Mistakes like these, especially if they have happened before, should serve as a warning sign. In most cases, it seems those in the position to best recognize and act on these mistakes and ineptitudes would be other doctors.

Most would expect physicians who observe such actions to report them, for the safety of future patients if nothing else. However, a recent study showed that close to 40 percent of physicians would not likely report a fellow doctor, even if he or she showed impaired or incompetent judgment.

The study was conducted among 1,900 physicians, in seven different areas. Out of these, a mere 1,216, or 64 percent, felt completely prepared and willing to confront a colleague or report them to a superior.

In the past three years, 17 percent of those who responded had either observed or heard about "impaired or incompetent colleagues," but only 77 percent of these individuals did anything about it.

Their reasoning?

Many felt that it was not their job, or that someone else would take care of it for them. Others convinced themselves that nothing would happen, even if they reported the situation to an authority. Some feared retaliation from other doctors and hospital management.

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