This editorial in BMJ Quality & Safety suggests that individual doctors' conduct, performance and responsibility are important factors in improving patient safety. The authors argue that although a 'systems approach' is important, it is necessary to examine the role of individuals within those systems.
They highlight recent research that points to small numbers of individual doctors who contribute repeatedly to patient dissatisfaction and harm, and to difficult working environments for other staff. They suggest that identifying and intervening with these individuals plays a role in the wider systems approach to patient safety. They also highlight an urgent need for further research into identifying and responding to problematic clinicians.