Most doctors are competent and provide appropriate medical care most of the time. However, even highly competent doctors may make a medical mistake once in awhile. While many medical mistakes may not cause injuries or result in death to patients (some patients may not even know that a medical mistake was made unless the doctor confesses to his medical negligence), some medical errors can cause catastrophic and permanent injuries or even death. Just like most drivers are careful most of the time and have car insurance just in case they make a driving mistake (“accidents” are called accidents because they are not intended outcomes), competent doctors maintain medical malpractice insurance just in case they make a medical mistake — people are not expected to be perfect in what they do all the time but they are expected to accept responsibility when they screw up.
Only a very small minority of doctors may be incompetent much of the time. Unfortunately, these incompetent doctors injure or kill too many patients before appropriate action is taken against them such as losing their medical license (ability) to practice medicine. Too often the employers of these incompetent doctors (hospitals, medical clinics, and medical offices) are too slow in either discovering the medical mistakes, medical errors, and medical injuries caused by the incompetence or they are too slow in taking appropriate corrective/preventive action to remove the incompetent doctors from direct patient care.
One critical reason for the inaction when there is medical malpractice negligence is that the medical records that should document the medical negligence are often created by the negligent medical providers themselves. The self-serving nature of medical records may lead to the failure to properly document bad medical treatment or bad medical outcomes because the wrongdoers are being forced into the position of admitting (documenting) their own medical mistakes — would a condemned man on death row give himself the lethal injection that will end his own life?
Another reason why medical professionals may drag their feet in policing their own is the inherent common bond among licensed medical providers that often blind them to their peers’ medical errors and medical mistakes or makes them loathe to report their incompetent colleagues because of the self-realization that “there but by the grace of God go I” (in other words, I could have made a similar medical mistake that would have cost me my license and my source of income). A strong feeling of camaraderie among medical professionals is a strong link to break even if it is the moral, ethical, and legal thing to do when a colleague is causing harm to his patients — when you know the incompetent doctor and/or his family on a personal level, there is a strong emotional reason to protect him especially when you have never seen let alone met the innocent victim of his medical negligence. Human nature is to protect oneself and those you know.
Just because something is understandable doesn’t make it right. There is a legal (and moral and ethical) duty owed by medical care providers to promptly investigate, report, and take appropriate action with regard to colleagues who commit medical malpractice negligence. The basic premise of medical ethics taught in all medical schools in the United States abides by the Latin phrase primum nil nocere — First, do no harm. By failing to take appropriate and timely action when they know or have reason to believe that a medical colleague is providing negligent medical care, doctors are violating their legal and ethical obligations.
If you suspect that the medical care you or a loved one received from a doctor or other medical care provider was negligent, visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim. You may also reach us by using our toll free telephone number 800-295-3959.