Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Medical malpractice and the unwritten code of silence

Pittsburgh residents may be interested in a recent report that examines the prevalence of doctor errors and offers a theory regarding the suggested reluctance among doctors to be critical of one another. Medical errors are, by some estimates, among the leading killers in the United States, and, according to the report, many doctors frequently encounter errors by other medical professionals but choose to say nothing.

There are dozens reasons for doctors to look the other way when a colleague makes a mistake, but the report indicates that some factors may be more important than others. For example, modern doctors depend on one another for business. A doctor who points out the mistakes of his peers may face a reduced number of referrals and less business in the future.

The theory also suggests that professional medicine is not a feedback-friendly culture. According to a Texas cardiologist, who witnessed the errors of others throughout his career, many doctors may react angrily when mistakes are pointed out. The report also suggested that, in some cases, the errors of other doctors may also go unreported because of seniority and other social issues. Additionally, medical professionals often do not want to get involved in a potential malpractice lawsuit.

All of these factors, among others, combine to result in a system that may be considered dangerous doctor errors. Patients may suffer repeated injuries and damages if doctors miss opportunities to learn from their mistakes. The medical industry puts a heavy emphasis on ethics, but the culture of deference and self-interest puts patients at risk. Medical malpractice law is designed to hold medical professionals accountable for errors. Injured parties may benefit from contacting a medical malpractice attorney who may be able to help them pursue compensation.

Source: Pacific Standard, "Why Doctors Stay Silent About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make", Marshall Allen, November 25, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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