Abstract

Physician-related errors are rising, resulting in an increase in disciplinary actions by licensing medical authorities. It has been previously reported that cognitive impairment may be responsible for 63% of all physician-related medical adverse events. In this paper we examine neuropsychological testing results from 148 physicians referred for assessment by the California Medical Board (CMB) for various infractions. The neuropsychological test performance of the physicians was compared to normative reference samples. Overall, they performed in the average range on most measures; however, they demonstrated relative deficits on tests of sequential processing, attention, logical analysis, eye–hand coordination, verbal and non-verbal learning. These findings reveal that this cohort of physicians is performing lower than expected on tests of intellectual and neuropsychological functioning. Applying a neuropsychological framework to the assessment of physicians may uncover potential cognitive factors that contribute to medical practice errors.