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Are doctors more worried about business than patients' health?

It is inaccurate to say that all doctors are more concerned with growing their business than they are with caring for patients, but a new report has found that many doctors say they will not tell their patients about other doctors' mistakes because physicians rely on each other for business. To think that a doctor will not report a medical error because it will damage his or her relationship with another doctor is hard take in, but it seems that many doctors will not point out another's mistakes.

Fortunately, there is a general agreement that doctors need to tell patients about the errors they make, but when it comes to another doctor's mistakes, the duty ends. Even if the doctor fixes the other doctor's mistake and heals any damage that has been done, not telling the patient robs him or her of the ability to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the original physician.

Another reason the report listed as to why doctors won't report each others' mistakes is because medicine is not a field that welcomes feedback. Many doctors are concerned that if they point out another doctor's errors, he or she will find a way to retaliate. It is odd to think that someone who you trust to take care of you, cure you of illness or operate on you would also be the kind of person to retaliate against someone for pointing out a mistake.

These kinds of excuses are dangerous, however. When doctors don't report each others' mistakes, they create a culture in which individuals cannot learn from their errors. If doctors don't know where they went wrong, they won't know how to prevent the same errors in the future.

Source: Pro Publica, “Why Doctors Stay Mum About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make,” Marshall Allen, Nov. 8, 2013

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