Study: Impaired doctors ignored by colleagues

August 6, 2010

A survey of physicians finds most say they would report other physicians whom they feel are incompetent or impaired.

A survey of physicians finds most say they would report other physicians whom they feel are incompetent or impaired, (i.e., from alcohol or drug use). However, when faced with this situation, many did not follow through on making a report, according to a study in the July 14 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

Data for the study were derived from a nationally representative survey of 2,938 eligible physicians practicing in the United States in 2009 in several specialties. Among the findings of the survey, 69 percent of physicians said they were very or somewhat prepared to deal with impaired colleagues.

Although 17 percent of physicians reported having knowledge of an impaired or incompetent physician colleague in the last three years, only 67 percent of these physicians reported that individual to a hospital, clinic, professional society, or other relevant authority.