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Surgeons' behavior may influence chances of patient complications

The way that surgeons behave in the operating room will influence the chances of a patient developing post-operative complications. The more often a surgeon is reported by co-workers for unprofessional behavior, the higher the risk. This is the conclusion, New York residents should know, of a study just published in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers examined the reports made about 202 surgeons and then analyzed a group of 13,653 patients for complications. Out of these patients, 1,583 had experienced complications. Compared to surgeons who were not reported in the 36 months prior to surgery, those with one to three reports were 18% more likely to leave patients with a complication. Among surgeons with four or more reports of bad behavior, the risk went up 32%.

These complications can range from stroke and cardiovascular conditions to sepsis and urinary tract infections. As for what constitutes unprofessional behavior, it could be lack of communication, the disrespectful treatment of co-workers or care that falls below the generally accepted medical standard. A surgeon may shout at co-workers, making them reluctant to speak up when the patient develops complications.

With seven million surgeries performed every year in the U.S., some 500,000 patients may be affected by surgeons' unprofessional behavior. Annually, the surgical complications cost the healthcare industry about $7 billion.

Any action on the part of a doctor, nurse or other medical professional that fails to live up to a generally accepted standard is malpractice. Those who believe they were the victims of malpractice may want to see a personal injury lawyer who focuses on this field. The lawyer may request an inquiry with the local medical board and hire third parties for an independent investigation. The reports of co-workers against a surgeon may help support the case and make settlement negotiations easier.

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