Why doctors should report a colleague’s medical error

Friday December 6, 2013

Connecticut patients usually only find out about medical mistakes when it is too late to take immediate corrective action. Not so with many doctors, though. Other physicians in the community often know fairly quickly about medical errors made by their colleagues. Can these doctors be held for medical malpractice along with the offending physicians?

The question is timely when we consider that some sources estimate medical errors have become the leading cause of death in the United States. According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is not uncommon for doctors to not inform patients about other doctors’ mistakes. This is regarded as unacceptable in the medical community; furthermore, doctors are required to report errors by doctors or other medical practitioners to their immediate superior.

According to the NEJM report, however, doctors do not tattlE on colleagues simply because they risk losing referrals and thus business. Many physicians also fear entanglement in medical malpractice cases.

Ultimately, patients are the ones who suffer when their doctors do not inform them of mistakes made by colleagues. A patient is deprived of proper and timely treatment to correct the mistake. More often than not, the patient is left in a worsened condition that requires corrective treatment that is often extremely expensive. Worse yet, a patient’s condition may even become irreparable and lead to death. In these cases, patients are the ones who get the worst part of mistakes made.

To help prevent further complications, patients in Connecticut should seek the expertise of a legal professional who is familiar with medical malpractice cases. This may help ensure that anyone privy to a medical error is held accountable. A professional can also help a patient recover compensation to meet medical expenses for additional or corrective treatment, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: Pacific Standard, “Why Doctors Stay Silent About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make,” Marshall Allen, Nov. 25, 2013

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