Same Behavior, Different Provider: American Medical Students’ Attitudes Toward Reporting Risky Behaviors Committed by Doctors, Nurses, and Classmates

Sahil Aggarwal, Aaron Kheriaty
Submitted: October, 2017

The bioethics literature lacks findings about medical students’ attitudes toward reporting risky behaviors that can cause error or reduce the perceived quality of health care. A survey was administered to 159 medical students to assess their likelihood to directly approach and to report various providers—a physician, nurse, or medical student—for three behaviors (poor hand hygiene, intoxication, or disrespect of patients). For the same behavior, medical students were significantly more likely to approach a classmate, followed by a nurse and then a doctor (p < .0001), to ask for behavioral modification. Across all three health care provider types, medical students were most likely to report intoxication (p < .0001). Medical students’ willingness to approach or report a provider for a risky or unprofessional behavior is influenced by the type of health care provider in question. Medical schools should implement patient safety curricula that alleviate fears about reporting superiors and create anonymous reporting systems to improve reporting rates.

  • Medical Ethics