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Surgeons' unprofessional behavior leads to patient complications

Every year in Montana and across the U.S., surgeons perform an average of 7 million procedures. Between 70% and 80% of surgeons are never reported by co-workers for unprofessional behavior. The remainder, though, are putting patients at a higher risk for post-operative complications. This is the finding of a new study published in JAMA Surgery.

In all, some 500,000 patients may be affected annually by the unprofessional behavior of surgeons. This behavior includes poor communication, the outright failure to communicate orders, disrespectful treatment of co-workers and unsafe care. For patients, the result could be stroke, cardiovascular conditions, sepsis, renal conditions or pneumonia, to name a few complications.

For their study, researchers focused on the unprofessional behavior of 202 surgeons. In their study group of 13,653 patients, researchers found that 1,583 experienced a complication after surgery. It turns out that the more times a surgeon was reported for bad behavior, the more likely it was for a complication to arise.

Surgeons with one to three reports raised the risk 18%, and those with four or more reports raised it 32%. This was compared to surgeons with no reports in the 36 months prior to surgery. Reports not only from co-workers but also from friends and family have been linked with more complications according to earlier research.

Unprofessional behavior on the part of a surgeon is an example of medical malpractice because it fails to adhere to an objective, reasonable standard of medical care. If this malpractice can be linked to a complication, then patients might have good grounds for a claim against the medical center where their surgery took place. Moving forward with the claim is another matter and may need to be undertaken with legal assistance. A lawyer may negotiate for a settlement on a patient's behalf or take the case to court.

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P.O. Box 1745
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