The objective of this work was to evaluate the characteristics of Professional Ethics Investigations with denouncement of a medical error and to discuss the importance of medical education for its prevention. The main article of the Brazilian Code of Medical Ethics characterizing the medical error is article 29. In this descriptive study we reviewed all investigations carried out in the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of Bahia (Cremeb) from 2000 to 2004. From the 372 doctors investigated by the Cremeb during the period, 42.7% (n = 159) were denounced according to article 29. From these, most were male (78.6%) and the medium age was of 44 years. The most frequent specialties were: Gynecology-obstetrics (24.8%), General Surgery (9.4%) and Anesthesiology (7.4%). Most of the accusations referred to medical errors occurred in public services (80.1%, n = 109) and were related to surgical interventions (66.0%, n = 97). Negligence was identified in 67.3% (n = 107) of the accusations, imprudence in 23.3% (n = 37) and inability in 8.8% (n = 14). Only 23.9% (n = 38) were considered guilty as charged while 31.4% (n = 50) were absolved due to lack of proofs and 44.0% (n = 70) for proven innocence. We conclude that medical errors, mostly due to negligence, are a frequent cause of accusations against doctors at Cremeb, a fact showing the need of this subject being more discussed and valued in the medicine course.
Ethics, Medical; Education, Medical; Legal Aspects; Negligence; Dangerous Behavior; Malpractice