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Unprofessionalism, sloppiness, and rudeness of surgeons linked to patients’ post-op complications

The patient outcomes of surgeons who had been reported by coworkers for unprofessional behavior were significantly worse than those of surgeons with no such reports, in a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which was published in June in JAMA Surgery.

Patients of surgeons who had one to three reports of unprofessional behavior had an 18% higher risk estimated for complications such as wound infections, pneumonia, blood clots, renal failure, stroke, and heart attack. That rose to a 32% higher risk for patients of surgeons with four or more reports. However, there was no difference in the percentage of patients who died, who were readmitted within 30 days, or who needed additional surgery.

Included in the unprofessional behaviors cited were shoddy operating room practices, disrespectful communications with coworkers, and failing to follow through on professional responsibilities such as signing verbal orders.

The data was drawn from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program for two academic medical centers, and covered 202 surgeons who operated on 13,600 patients.