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Study links surgeons’ bad behavior with risk for patient injury

| Aug 1, 2019 | Medical Malpractice |

Between 20% and 30% of surgeons in Kentucky and across the U.S. are reported for unprofessional behavior from co-workers or from former patients and their families. Unprofessional behavior in the OR should be of concern to everyone since it raises the risk of patients developing post-surgical complications. A study linking the two has recently been published by JAMA Surgery.

After analyzing 202 surgeons reported for bad behavior and 1,583 patients who suffered from complications within 30 days after surgery, researchers found that the risk for complications goes up the more reports have been filed about a surgeon. So, for example, patients are 18% likelier to be injured when their surgeon has been the subject of one to three reports. With four or more reports, the risk is 32% higher.

Examples of unprofessional behavior include poor communication, lack of communication and the disrespectful treatment of co-workers. It is not uncommon for surgeons to shout at co-workers for giving the wrong instrument or failing to provide certain information. Post-operative complications can include infection, pneumonia, renal conditions, heart conditions and stroke.

Every year in this country, surgeons perform about seven million operations. The JAMA study estimates that surgeons’ unprofessional behavior may affect the outcome of at least 500,000 of them. The healthcare industry pays out $7 billion annually for surgical complications.

Unprofessional behavior is a form of medical malpractice since it fails to live up to a generally accepted standard of medical care. When there is clear proof linking it to an injury, victims may have a case. Malpractice claims end in some of the highest settlements in the field of personal injury law, so victims might benefit from consulting with an attorney. The lawyer may hire investigators and medical experts to help strengthen the case.

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