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Doctors May Choose to Not Reveal Mistakes Made by Other Doctors


When was the last time you discovered that one of your coworkers made a mistake and decided to not do something about it? Most of the time, we need not be concerned about coworkers overlooking the slipups of their colleagues, but when it comes to medical practitioners, those mistakes could jeopardize a patient’s health.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has warned in an article that doctors may be likely to keep quiet when they find a colleague’s error on a patient chart. This “mums the word” attitude endangers patients, as mistakes go uncorrected and so do negligent behaviors. Why would doctors want to zip their lips when so much is on the line, then?

A few reasons doctors might choose to ignore a colleague’s mistakes include:

  • Referrals: Many doctors make their name and paycheck thanks to the referrals of other doctors and hospitals in the area or within a medical institution. Bringing up another doctor’s mistake to them, or to a superior, could easily break that referral source and the referrals will stop coming.
  • No time: Some doctors might not have the time to look into the error they found to see if it is real or harmful. They have busy schedules, so it could be possible that some find it easier to just turn a blind eye rather than spend their valuable time investigating the error.
  • Hostility: Like any other occupation, medical practitioners are part of a workplace environment with other people in their field. If they start pointing out peoples’ mistakes, they could start to feel coworker hostility. No one wants to go to work if they don’t feel welcome there.
  • Uneasiness: Spotting a medical error could be the beginning of a lengthy medical malpractice case once word reaches the afflicted patient. Testimony may be required from the doctor that first discovered the mistake. In order to avoid getting caught up in that legal scene and lose valuable time to days spent in court trials and depositions, a doctor could decide not to do anything.

Speaking Up When Doctors Won’t

With doctors possibly-inclined to “watch each other’s backs” when it comes to medical errors, it is up to some patients and their families to catch the mistakes and take legal action. If you have been harmed by the negligence of your doctor or a hospital, seek the counsel of Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC, our firm’s Kentucky medical malpractice attorney in Louisville. With more than 25 years of personal injury law experience and $100+ million won for clients, you can trust us to provide the top-tier representation you need and deserve.

Contact us online today to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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