Article Text

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


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 in the UK. 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 standardised outcomes.

  • surgery
  • ethics

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.