The Silence on Bad Doctors


Few doctors make it through their training without being involved in at least one case that goes awry. I was no exception.

As an intern, I was assisting in a routine hernia operation when the attending surgeon cut the vas deferens, the tube that transports sperm from the testicle. I expected to be grilled by my colleagues afterward on the details, pressed to explain how this largely avoidable mistake possibly could have been made. That didn’t happen.

“Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital surveyed thousands of physicians in a variety of medical specialties; 17% said they’d had direct, personal knowledge of an impaired or incompetent colleague in their hospital, group or practice in the last three years.”

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