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Risk Factors for Physician Misconduct Identified

Male sex, lower socioeconomic status, and difficulty in medical school increase misconduct risk

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors who are male, are from lower socioeconomic groups or had academic difficulties in medical school may be at increased risk of professional misconduct, according to a study published online April 27 in BMJ.

Janet Yates and David James, of the University of Nottingham Medical School in the United Kingdom, compared the anonymous records of 59 doctors who had graduated from eight U.K. medical schools from 1958 to 1997, and had findings of serious professional misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC) from 1999 to 2004, to a sampling of 236 doctors from matching graduation cohorts who did not face GMC proceedings.

Compared to doctors without misconduct cases, the doctors with misconduct findings were more likely to be male (odds ratio [OR], 9.8), from a lower socioeconomic group (OR, 4.28), and to have failed early or preclinical exams (OR, 5.47).

"This small study suggests that male sex, a lower socioeconomic background, and early academic difficulties at medical school could be risk factors for subsequent professional misconduct. The findings are preliminary and should be interpreted with caution. Most doctors with risk factors will not come before the GMC's disciplinary panels," the authors write.

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