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Is the perceived impact of disciplinary procedures on medical doctors’ professional practice associated with working in an open culture and feeling supported? A questionnaire among medical doctors in the Netherlands who have been disciplined.

Laarman, B.S., Bouwman, R.J.R., Veer, A.J.E. de, Friele, R.D. Is the perceived impact of disciplinary procedures on medical doctors’ professional practice associated with working in an open culture and feeling supported? A questionnaire among medical doctors in the Netherlands who have been disciplined. BMJ Open: 2020, 10(11)
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Introduction:
Disciplinary procedures can have a negative impact on the professional functioning of medical doctors. In this questionnaire study, doctors’ experience with open culture and support during a disciplinary procedure is studied to determine whether open culture and support are associated with perceived changes in the professional practice of doctors.

Methods:
All doctors who received a warning or a reprimand from the Dutch Medical Disciplinary Board between July 2012 and August 2016 were invited to fill in a 60-item questionnaire concerning open culture, perceived support during the disciplinary procedure and the impact of the procedure on professional functioning as reported by doctors themselves. The response rate was 43% (n=294).

Results:
A majority of doctors perceive their work environment as a safe environment in which to talk about and report incidents (71.2% agreed). Respondents felt supported by a lawyer or legal representative and colleagues (92.8% and 89.2%, respectively). The disciplinary procedure had effects on professional practice. Legal support and support from a professional confidant and a professional association were associated with fewer perceived changes to professional practice.

Conclusion:
Our study shows that doctors who had been disciplined perceive their working environment as open. Doctors felt supported by lawyers and/or legal representatives and colleagues. Legal support was associated with less of a perceived impact on doctors’ professional practice.