Healthcare News & Insights

Study: 36% of docs won’t report an incompetent colleague

Bad news for those who assumed impaired and incompetent physicians would be reported by their peers.

A new study found 36% of doctors don’t think it’s their responsibility to report fellow physicians who are under-performing — and potentially endangering patients. The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Why doctors won’t report other docs — and who is least likely to report — may surprise you.

According to the researchers, doctors gave the following reasons for why they wouldn’t report a peer:

  • assumption that someone else would handle it (19%)
  • belief that nothing would be done (15%)
  • fear of retribution (12%)
  • belief that it isn’t the doctor’s responsibility to report (10%), and
  • fear that punishment for the reported doc would be too harsh (9%).

The study also found that some doctors are more likely to report incompetent peers than others. The physicians least likely to report were those working in small practices and those who are underrepresented in the profession, such as minorities and international medical grads. But women were slightly more likely to report a peer than men were. Doctors practicing for fewer than 10 years, or for more than 30 years, were more likely to report than physicians in their mid-career.

Among the different specialties, the most likely to report were anesthesiologists and psychiatrists (76% each). Cardiologists (63%) and pediatricians (59%) were the least likely to report a peer.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.