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Doctors' silence can lead to poor care for Boston patients

There are many reasons people put faith in their physicians. Patients trust a doctor who has had years of education and practice in their field. Their doctor may have treated them well in the past. Whatever the case, many Boston residents seek the help of a physician without thinking twice about medical negligence – and sometimes, patients do not realize their doctor made a mistake.

One cardiologist-turned-lawyer said that in his four decades in medicine, he noted frequent errors committed by colleagues. In one case, he pointed out a mistake to a radiologist, but more often than not, he remained silent. The reason? He claims there may have been hostility had he called attention to the error.

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, many physicians find themselves in this position. In fact, more than half of survey respondents noted that they had identified a colleague’s error in the last year, and in some cases, they do not point out the mistake. Experts suggest it may be because doctors rely on each other for business, and calling out a peer could mean losing future patients. The report states that doctors may want to avoid a medical malpractice case, or may not want to take the time to unravel what actually happened to the patient.

While doctors may be protecting themselves by hiding errors, they could be causing harm to the patient. Not only do medical errors sometimes result in a worsened condition, but they can also mean greater acceptance of error and lower-quality care. Someone who has been affected by medical malpractice can rely on a Boston attorney to file a claim to seek justice for the error.

Source: Pacific Standard Magazine, “Why Doctors Stay Silent About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make,” Marshall Allen, Nov. 25, 2013

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