How do I tell a colleague they have made a mistake?BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1035 (Published 16 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m1035
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The article  is very interesting and instructive but there is no mention that mistakes and suboptimal practice may be directly or indirectly caused by conflicts of interest and/or negligence. The recommendations “Start with a colleague to colleague discussion” and “Encourage them to learn from it”  are good only for bona fide errors. Otherwise, the comments should be public. “The use of a transparent collective approach is the only way…” .
The most difficult issue is to say that a senior colleague, head of the department or institution, makes mistakes. The psychologically easiest way is to say at an informal party: “And what I always wanted to say is…”, then continue in an objective and constructive manner avoiding adjectives. Certainly, it is preferable to do the same at a professional meeting. In this connection, it is important to dispose of the relevant information  and evidence. In keeping with the idea that mistakes in medical practice, research and healthcare policies have to do with the patients’ health and/or misuse of public funds, other advisable steps include letters (signed or anonymous) to health care authorities as well as publications e.g. .
1. Rimmer A. How do I tell a colleague they have made a mistake? BMJ 2020;368:m1035.
2. Jargin SV. Invasive procedures with questionable indications: Prevention of a negligent custom. J Surg Open Access 2017;3(5)
Competing interests: No competing interests