Character failings in the surgeon fallen from grace: a thematic analysis of disciplinary hearings against surgeons 2016–2020

JUNE JONES, Ross Elledge*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Surgeons are commonly evaluated with respect to outcomes and adherence to rules and regulations, rather than a true holistic examination of the character of the surgeon in question. We sought to examine the character failings of surgeons who faced fitness to practice enquiries under the Medical Practitioner Tribunal Service (MPTS) in the United Kingdom. In particular, we examined the absence of virtue as perceived through the lens of Aristotelian ethics using thematic analysis of tribunal hearing transcripts from 2016 to 2020. We identified three overarching themes that are explored in depth: “the god complex”, “reputation over integrity” and “wounded pride”. We hope to use this as the foundation for a re-examination of the place of phronesis in postgraduate surgical education, which we argue should be perceived as an exercise in character development and reformation rather than the simplistic teaching of skills to standardized outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Early online date8 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • surgeon
  • character
  • Discipline

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