[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
September 5, 2001

Ethical Issues in Whistleblowing

JAMA. 2001;286(9):1079. doi:

Whistleblowing is not an appealing activity. The target of the accusation may suffer, but so can the accuser, even if the accusations are substantiated. At the least, "snitches" may become unpopular. At the worst, they may be ostracized and even driven from their institutions.1 Consequently, physicians often discuss their colleagues' mistakes among themselves, but less so than with patients. There is an emerging literature on the virtues of disclosing one's own mistakes,2,3 but remarkably little on the empirical or ethical aspects of discussing the mistakes of others.4,5 The following justifications (and some responses) for not disclosing others' mistakes are often used: