In what other ways can we keep doctors from unsafe practice if not by professionals who know their fields coming forward and reporting other professional who are practicing in unethical or illegal ways? This is highly important in order to protect patients' rights who may have serious medical issues and go to see experts whom they trust to for help.
A statistic reported from a new study about incompetency among doctors, reported that approximately one-third of doctors who knew of colleagues who were performing in unethical or illegal ways or were just overall incompetent in their practice did not turn them in to authorities.
Doctors who are practicing under the influence of drugs or alcohol and who are impaired while seeing their patients often get away with this behavior and it has to stop. The best way for these doctors to be "found out" is by either their patients reporting them, or their colleagues reporting them, but this doesn't seem to happening enough and many patients are being seen for anything from minor to serious conditions by incompetent professionals!
Researcher Catherine M. DesRoches, assistant professor of medicine at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston and her colleagues sent surveys to 2,938 doctors practicing in the U.S. in 2009 in a variety of areas including anesthesiology, cardiology, family practice, general surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, and psychiatry. They received responses back from 1,891 doctors (65%). This is what she had to say, "We had 17% of physicians who had direct knowledge of a colleague in their practice or hospital whom they believed was impaired or incompetent. About two-thirds of those did report that physician, but we still had about a third that did not report."
Why don't doctors report incompetent colleagues? When asked the doctors shared that they thought someone else was doing the reporting, that nothing would be done if they were reported or that they feared retribution.
If you were a patient, being seen by an incompetent doctor, wouldn't you want them turned in? The issue here is that most patients go to doctors once they find out they have a problem. They may be too sick to even think about distrusting an expert and they literally put their lives in the hands of a doctor, trusting them implicitly.
Here is something important to remember about your doctor's visits: An educated consumer is the only type of consumer that should ever be buying products or services. Always educated yourself as to the doctor to whom you visit. Know their background, years of practice, any complaints against them. And then when you are being examined by them, keep your eyes and ears open for any suspicious feelings or implications of incompetency. This is your health and sometimes your life that you are putting into someone else's hands. Just because they call themselves professionals or have degrees on their walls, does not mean you are in the best hands.
When it comes to dealing with possible incompetent doctors and patients' rights, family members or loved ones should especially make sure that the doctors they are bringing their children or elderly family members to are competent. If doctors are not going to protect their patients, then family members, loved ones and/or friends should take over the job! And if you feel as though you or a loved one is being seen by an incompetent doctor, immediately discontinue seeing that doctor and report him or her to the medical board in the state in which he or she is licensed.