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Study: Docs reluctant to inform on each other

July 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Many doctors are apparently reluctant to report other doctors who are incompetent or impaired by substance abuse or mental health problems. A new report by Massachusetts General Hospital found nearly one-third of the 2,000 physicians surveyed objected to the idea that they should have an obligation to report doctors who are incompetent or impaired. The same survey found that 17 percent of doctors had an encounter with impaired or incompetent colleagues, but only two-thirds of them actually turned in those doctors.

Lead study author Catherine DesRoches of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital found the result of the survey troubling. "Self-regulation is the primary mechanism we use to make sure doctors that shouldn't be practicing are not practicing," said DesRoches. "That's a key to protecting patients."

"This is a very important study, because it reminds us that we're probably not doing what we should be doing," said Dr. Virginia Hood, president-elect of the American College of Physicians and professor of medicine at The University of Vermont School of Medicine.


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