Half of doctors mum about medical mistakes
Survey: Physicians believe errors should be reported, but don't always do so
updated 1:39 p.m. CT, Mon., Dec. 3, 2007
WASHINGTON - Nearly half of all U.S. doctors fail to report incompetent or unethical colleagues, even though they agree that such mistakes should be reported, researchers said on Monday.
They found that 46 percent of physicians surveyed admitted they knew of a serious medical error that had been made but did not tell authorities about it.
"There is a measurable disconnect between what physicians say they think is the right thing to do and what they actually do," said Eric Campbell of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, who led the survey.
Doctors are also surprisingly willing to order unnecessary — and often expensive — tests such as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans. Just 25 percent said they were looking out to ensure they did not unintentionally treat someone differently because of their sex or race, the survey found.
In 2000, the U.S. Institute of Medicine reported that up to 98,000 people die every year because of medical errors in hospitals alone.