According to a report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the failure of doctors to report mistakes made by other physicians is a common one that needs to be addressed. Based on information from the report, when doctors notice that another doctor has made a surgical error or other type of mistake, they usually keep it to themselves. A survey of doctors conducted by the lead author of the report determined that half of survey participants had seen at least one colleague error in the last year.
While there is a widely held belief in the medical community that doctors need to own up to their own errors, this does not carry over to reporting the mistakes of others. Physicians have a number of common reasons not to speak up about someone else's error, including fear of an angry response, the desire to stay out of a complicated situation and the possible issue of legal consequences.