In a survey taken and reported in the July 14, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one-third of U.S. physicians surveyed reported that they do not a feel a responsiblity to report a colleague who they believed to be incompetent or impaired by substance abuse or a mental disorder.
Speculation as to the reason why so many physicians fail to report their fellow physicians include a belief that these colleagues will lose their licenses and ability to earn an income,the belief that reporting will not be effective, a fear of retribution, or a belief that someone else was already dealing with the problem. 21% of those surveyed believed they were unprepared to deal with incompetent or impaired physician colleagues.
The lead investigator, Dr. Catherine DesRoches, said “Since physicians themselves are the primary mechanism for detecting such colleagues, understanding their beliefs and experiences surrounding this issue is essential. This is clearly an area where the profession of medicine needs to be concerned.”