Incompetence, corruption, dishonest, or unethical conduct on the part of members of the medical profession is reprehensible. In addition to posing a real or potential threat to patients, such conduct undermines the public’s confidence in the profession. The obligation to address misconduct falls on both individual physicians and on the profession as a whole.
The goal of disciplinary review is both to protect patients and to help ensure that colleagues receive appropriate assistance from a physician health program or other service to enable them to practice safely and ethically. Disciplinary review must not be undertaken falsely or maliciously.
Individually, physicians should report colleagues whose behavior is incompetent or unethical in keeping with ethics guidance.
Collectively, medical societies have a civic and professional obligation to:
- Report to the appropriate governmental body or state board of medical examiners credible evidence that may come to their attention involving the alleged criminal conduct of any physician relating to the practice of medicine.
- Initiate disciplinary action whenever a physician is alleged to have engaged in misconduct whenever there is credible evidence tending to establish unethical conduct, regardless of the outcome of any civil or criminal proceedings relating to the alleged misconduct.
- Impose a penalty, up to and including expulsion from membership, on a physician who violates ethical standards.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: II, III, VII
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