When doctors in North Carolina or across the nation make a mistake related to their field of practice, other medical professionals are often aware of it. That's because they are often the ones who need to correct the doctor error. Mistakes can include accidental punctures, removal of the wrong body part or operating on the wrong organ.
Some studies have shown that medical mistakes are one of the top causes of death in the nation. Other doctors know when their peers have made an error, which could create a moral dilemma for them. They might wonder if they should report the mistake to the patient, but usually, they protect their peers. In some cases, they might fear repercussion in the form of negative peer comments.
A report in The New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the problem of reporting medical mistakes could be a common issue among physicians. A separate survey reported that doctors knew of at least one mistake made by a fellow professional. While medical professionals understand the obligation they have to report their own mistakes to patients, they are not as clear about the correct course of action to follow when they find that someone else made a mistake. Experts agreed that physicians could want to keep quiet for many reasons.
A Texas cardiologist who later became a medical malpractice attorney reported that he saw numerous errors made by other doctors in his nearly 40 years as a doctor. He pointed out some of them, but usually stayed quiet to avoid conflicts.
When a doctor makes a life-threatening mistake, the patient might want to hold them accountable. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help clients pursue legal action when they find out about a medical error.
Source: PSMAG, "Why doctors stay silent about mistakes their colleagues make", Marshall Allen, November 25, 2013